Taylor Heinicke's pure numbers in the Washington Football Team's Week 13 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders hardly jump off the screen. Heinicke completed 23-of-30 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns, but he also threw one ugly interception and had a few others dropped by Raiders defenders.
Yet, as he's done time and time again, Heinicke bounced back from a mistake in epic fashion, following up a fourth-quarter interception by leading Washington on a game-winning drive, his fourth of the season.
Following the victory, Washington's fourth straight, Heinicke was the subject of high praise from star Washington defensive lineman Jonathan Allen.
"Heinicke, what can you say about him? He just keeps on showing why he needs to be our quarterback," Allen said.
So, why is Allen such a firm believer in his quarterback? Well, the defensive lineman is impressed with how Heinicke continuously bounces back from adversity and continues to give his team a chance to win.
"When everything is against him, when you don't expect him to do well, going against Hall of Famers, going up against defenses with star-studded defensive linemen, when his weapons keep going down, he just makes plays. He's a playmaker," Allen said. "He deserves to be in the NFL and I think he's shown why."
Heinicke's story is well documented by now. At this time last year, he was sitting on the couch contemplating giving up football. Now he's the QB1 in Washington, leading a club that is currently the No. 6 seed in the NFC and just two games back of the NFC East division lead.
Allen is far from the only one who feels that way about Heinicke. Head coach Ron Rivera said on Sunday he was proud of the way his quarterback led Washington on its final offensive drive to lead the club to its fourth straight win.
"He wants a chance to redeem himself and that’s all he needed," Rivera said. "He got an opportunity and you can see it in his eyes when he comes to the sideline that he knew he made a mistake and he knew he just needed a chance to redeem himself and we were fortunate enough to do that.”
Resiliency is a theme that Washington has rallied around during its four-game winning streak. Washington's last three victories have come in close contests, ones that required either a game-winning drive or the defense to hold its opponent.
Those types of victories, ones that show Washington's ability to overcome adversity and still come out on top, have brought the players in the locker room closer by the week.
"You can feel it from the guys," Heinicke said. "If I make a mistake, they are there to pick me up. It is a great group of guys, and they are working hard together. I can’t say enough good things about them. Everyone in there is resilient, everyone is a warrior. We were at a 2-6 record and we could have easily folded and the season could have gone totally different but the guys went into battle and here we are, 6-6.”
“They are resilient and they bounce back," Rivera added. "The one thing they seem to feel and believe just gives us a chance, and we will see what happens and that is the biggest thing about what we saw today.”
Despite Heinicke's improved play over the past month, it's no guarantee that he'll be Washington's long-term answer at quarterback moving forward. For Allen, he isn't worried about that right now, saying the entire locker room has bought into No. 4's lead.
"I just know this team believes in Taylor Heinicke," Allen said. "We're playing hard for him and he's going to lead us."
Heinicke isn't worried about his long-term future now, either. He's still under contract for the 2022 season, after all. Right now, all the 28-year-old is focused on is Washington's next opponent, Dallas, in what is a pivotal game at FedEx Field on Sunday for the NFC East title race.
"Again, we beat Tampa, we beat Carolina who had a good defense. And it was Cam’s [Newton] homecoming. We beat Seattle on Monday night. So, you know, the confidence keeps building, keeps building," Heinicke said. "We practice hard all week, and we just feel good where our team’s at right now. Hopefully we just keep the ball rolling.”