by Woodland Crisfield
Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke dives for the pylon, launching himself into the hearts of Washington Football fans. (Photo: USA Today.)
One silver lining that came in Washington’s defeat by the Tampa-Bay Buccaneers in the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs was the quarterback performance by Taylor Heinicke.
Heinicke went toe-to-toe against the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers, completing 26 of 44 attempts, throwing for 306 yards and 1 touchdown, while rushing for 46 yards and a touchdown of his own. He even returned to the field after being sidelined with a shoulder injury to give the Burgundy and Gold one final shot at their first playoff victory since 2005.
While the Football Team would ultimately fall short, many fans commended the valiant effort that Heinicke and the team displayed on Saturday January 9. His best moment came in the third quarter on a third-and-5 at the Tampa 8-yard line. As the pocket broke down, Heinicke found a way to escape to the left. Scrambling down the sideline, he would then fully extend at the pylon for a touchdown pulling, Washington within two points of the lead.
However, that would not be his only shining moment, as the speedy Heinicke would use his athleticism to come up with several more clutch scrambles to extend drives, keeping Washington in the game.
Heinicke’s performance was even more impressive considering the fact that just a month prior, he was completing a degree in advanced mathematics at Old Dominion University, before being called up to join Washignton as an emergency backup quarterback.
A product of Old Dominion, Heinicke went undrafted in 2015 before being signed by the Minnesota Vikings where he learned under then quarterbacks coach Scott Turner (Washington's current offensive coordinator). He would then spend several stints with three other teams, including Ron Rivera’s Panthers in 2018, and even started 2020 as the backup quarterback for the now defunct XFL’s St. Louis Battlehawks.
Although Washington fell 31-23 to Tampa Bay, Heinicke’s gutsy performance and the team’s as a whole, would take away the usual disheartening feeling of defeat from most fans.
And while the Football Team finished the 2020 campaign at 7-9, with an early exit in the postseason, the quarterback performance by Taylor Heinicke will be remembered fondly for years to come by fans of the Burgundy and Gold.