Heinicke starts 2021 like he ended 2020, but it again wasn't enough


Washington's 2020 season concluded with a Taylor Heinicke performance that enraptured FedEx Field.

On Sunday, their 2021 campaign began the same way.

After Ryan Fitzpatrick was forced out of the action in the second quarter of Washington's Week 1 loss to the Chargers with a hip injury, the Burgundy and Gold's beloved backup stepped into the huddle. He then proceeded to step up.

And this time, there were thousands of fans in attendance to take in the show.

Heinicke's first two throws came on second and third down of the drive that Fitzpatrick started, and he sailed both of them. From there, however, he locked in.

No. 4 engineered a just-before-the-end-of-the-half possession that culminated in a much-needed field goal, which meant the home side was down just 13-9 at half despite being dominated on the stat sheet. 

The offense then came out of the locker room with serious zip to it. Heinicke found Terry McLaurin for three separate completions on the third-quarter March, including what will probably go down as one of the more absurd grabs of the year.

On the very next snap, Heinicke picked out Logan Thomas in the end zone for Washington's first six-pointer of the afternoon to stake the team to a 16-13 advantage. The stadium, to say the least, seemed pleased with the signal caller. 

Heinicke's theatrics continued. The highlight of his ensuing trip onto the field was a two-handed push pass to McLaurin that would've looked right at home on a basketball court. Brett Favre probably would've advised against that decision, but it worked for that sequence. 


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The jolt that Heinicke provided seemed to carry over to the defense, at least for a while. Montez Sweat and William Jackson III both forced turnovers off Justin Herbert in the second half, as the unit finally found a way to make Heinicke's counterpart a little uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, Herbert was able to re-settle in for the conclusion of the fourth quarter, first by sticking a dart into the hands of Mike Williams to go up 20-16 and then by draining the clock by hitting third down after third down, therefore preventing Heinicke from seeing a true opportunity to cap his relief effort off with a victory.

Heinicke finished 11-of-15 for 122 yards and a touchdown to go along with three rushes for 17 yards, and with Washington set to face off the Giants on Thursday, he may be needed for the entire contest. 

If that turns out to be true, you can bet that it'll be another entertaining 60 minutes. Hopefully one that ends in a win, too.