NFL

Taylor Heinicke puts in breakout performance in first career NFL playoff game

The quarterback wants to stay at Washington for the upcoming NFL season after losing 31-23 to the Buccaneers in the Wild-Card game on Saturday night.

Taylor Heinicke puts in breakout performance in first career NFL playoff game

The Washington Football Team suffered many injuries this season and for their most important game of the year, it was informed that Alex Smith would not be available to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Wild-Card game on Saturday night. So head coach Ron Rivera announced that Taylor Heinicke was going to be the starting quarterback to face legendary QB Tom Brady.

Heinicke surprised everyone from the first drive, making the right throws, reading the game and it showed that he was just prepared for the moment. Washington’s latest backup ended with a higher QB rating (92.0) than Brady (90.8), completing 26 of 44 passes for 306 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The Washington Football Team lost 31-23 to the Buccaneers, but it seems that they have found their franchise quarterback for many years to come.

The latest backup

Washington started the year with Dwayne Haskins as QB, but he suffered a season ending injury and then backup Kyle Allen was named as the starting quarterback for the next couple of games. Unfortunately, Allen suffered an injury and it was Alex Smith, who hadn’t played a game in two years due to a serious calf injury, who would lead Washington to the playoffs.

Again another injury would prevent Smith from playing the Wild-Card game on Saturday night and the latest backup, Taylor Heinicke, was chosen to lead the team against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. Prior to that match, Heinicke had only played for three different NFL franchises and even had a short spell in the XFL.

He came from Old Dominion University and he spent four years as the starting quarterback before entering the NFL draft in 2015. During his college career he completed over 67 percent of his passes for 14,959 yards and 132 touchdowns. Unfortunately, Heinicke went undrafted in 2015, but he signed a contract with the Minnesota Vikings. Being the third-string QB he was let go two years later and in 2017 he spent a month with the Patriots where he met Brady for the first time. In October of that year, the New England franchise let him go.

In November 2017, he was signed by the Houston Texans and he made his NFL debut, replacing T.J. Yates. However, after completing his only pass he was taken out of the game due to concussion protocols and he was waived the following April. He then signed with the Carolina Panthers when Ron Rivera was the head coach and in 2018 appeared in six games replacing Cam Newton.

The only game he started was against the Falcons in week 16 that season and he completed 33 of 57 passes with a touchdown and three interceptions. The following August he was released by the Panthers and found himself playing in the XFL during the 2020 season with the St. Louis BattleHawks, but never played a single game.

In late 2020, Heinicke was reunited with Ron Rivera, who is now coaching the Washington Football Team. On 8 December he was signed to the practice squad and was moved up to the roster as quarterbacks were getting injured. He only played once prior to the playoff game and it was in week 16 against the Panthers. Heinicke completed 12 of 19 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown in a loss for Washington.

He was impressive on Saturday night, gaining the respect of everyone around the league. After the loss against the Buccaneers, he said he wants to stay at Washington because he deserves an opportunity in the NFL.

I deserve to be in this league a little longer. I have been on the other side not playing and it’s not fun, not as fun as this,” said Heinicke after the game.