In the first round of the NFL playoffs, not many experts gave the Washington Football Team much of a chance. Alex Smith was injured and they would have to rely on backup Taylor Heinicke, who has been playing well of late but was going up against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. Heinicke not only proved them wrong, but he won over an entire league in the process.
Heinicke was 26 for 44 with 1 passing TD, 1 rushing TD, and an INT. Those stats are very impressive on face value, but they don’t tell the whole story of his game.
There was some question leading up to the game as to whether or not he would start. WFT head coach Ron Rivera didn’t make the decision to start Heinicke until Friday. Given Tampa Bay’s ability to pressure a QB, they didn’t want to put Smith in a tight spot, so they gave the nod to Heinicke.
“We were really fired up about giving [Heinicke] that opportunity.”
Heinicke battled the entire game, and even overcame some injuries to stay in the game and give his team a chance to win.
The first injury occurred when he ran for his the now-famous TD at the pylon. Heinicke avoided the pressure from several Buccaneers and took off towards the endzone.
He laid out with full extension and managed to knock the pylon down. In doing so though, he suffered an AC joint separation in his left shoulder.
On the next drive, Heinicke took a couple of big hits along the sideline and had to go to the locker room to be evaluated. He was back in the next series and led a 75 yard drive that ended in an 11 yard touchdown pass to Steven Sims Jr. in the corner of the endzone.
Heinicke’s performance received universal praise from his teammates and head coach.
“It was gutsy,” head coach Ron Rivera said. “The young man earned an opportunity.”
“The way he carries himself, he’s a true pro,” Washington tackle Morgan Moses said in a post-game interview. “I can’t tell you why he was on the street before we picked him up. He has every quality of a player you want. I’m just glad we got him. No words to explain the performance that he had today. He stepped up on a big-time stage, and I commend him for that.”
WFT corner Kendall Fuller said
“His grit, his willingness to fight, willingness to compete, it definitely motivated the whole team.”
Heincke received a ton of praise from outside of the WFT as well.
Former St. Louis BattleHawks president Kurt Hunzeker was excited for Heinicke.
Even one of the greatest quaterbacks in the league today, Patrick Mahomes, had high praise for Heinicke.
Heinicke has been receiving praise all over the internet, but a football legend even chimed in after his performace.
Heinicke went from studying for a final when he received the call from WFT, to leading his team in an NFL playoff game. His determination and grit won over his team, and the league. He deserves a shot in the NFL next season and certainly opened a lot of eyes with how he played yesterday.
Congrats to Taylor Heinicke on his performance yesterday and every BattleHawks fan hopes you can find an opportunity to stick around in the NFL.
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