Washington Football Team quarterback Taylor Heinicke recorded his best performance as a pro during Washington’s 31-23 postseason loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday night, and it’s one he’s hoping will keep him in rotation in Washington moving forward. When it was announced that quarterback Alex Smith would not suit up due to his calf injury, Heinicke stepped up and almost pulled off what would have been an upset for the books in just his second-ever start.
Against the Buccaneers on Saturday night, Heinicke completed 26 of 44 passes for 306 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also led Washington in rushing with 46 yards and a touchdown on six carries. The former undrafted free agent out of Old Dominion has had stints with a couple of different NFL teams, but Ron Rivera — who gave him his first career start with the Carolina Panthers — has always kept him close. After Saturday night’s loss, which also marked the conclusion of his one-year deal, Heinicke told reporters that he is comfortable with Rivera and made it clear that he hopes his future is in Washington.
«I love Ron,» Heinicke told reporters, via JP Finlay of NBC Sports Washington. «I want to be back in Washington.»
Heinicke may feel like he’s still competing for a roster spot, but it’s possible that he played himself into a little bit of money or at least a guaranteed spot on an NFL roster on Super Wild-Card Weekend. He was on the losing side of things against the Buccaneers, but he arguably was the player of the game. Late in the third quarter, he led a seven-play, 61-yard drive which was capped with an incredible eight-yard scramble for a touchdown.
Heinicke’s heroics at that point had cut the deficit to just two points. After Tampa Bay converted a field goal on the ensuing possession, Heinicke and Washington’s offense took the field with a chance to take the lead. Instead, the backup signal-caller injured his left shoulder and was escorted to the locker room as Washington punted the ball away. He returned just minutes later, however, and led an 11-play, 75-yard drive which resulted in a touchdown — a beautiful 11-yard dime to Steven Sims that cut the lead to six points before Washington eventually lost.
Heinicke may have some options to choose from this offseason, but with how comfortable he apparently is with Rivera, Washington may have found its true No. 2 quarterback.