Washington Football Team quarterback Taylor Heinicke failed to lead his team to a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but he certainly earned himself on an NFL roster for the next season. Four hours before the game, Washington announced that starting quarterback Alex Smith was inactive and that Heinicke would start in the wild-card round game.
The Buccaneers won 31-23 but Heinicke kept Washington in the game as he completed 26-of-44 passes for 306 yards, one touchdown and one interception. "I deserve to be in this league a little longer," said Heinicke, a pending free agent.
"I've been on the other side not playing and it's not fun, not as fun as this." Washington star wide receiver Terry McLaurin had only words of praise for Heinicke. "I'll take No. 4 on my team any day of the week, twice on Sunday," McLaurin said.
"I hope we're teammates in the future. "That dude plays with no fear. He's going to give his players a chance to make plays. He extends plays, he runs, he takes hits. He does everything you ask a quarterback to do in this league.
"He gave us a chance."
Heinicke was named the starter on Friday
On Friday, Washington head coach Ron Rivera made it clear to the team that Heinicke would be starting the game against the Buccaneers. However, he didn't want to publicly reveal it until few hours before the kickoff.
"We didn't want to put him in a bad situation," Rivera said. Rivera insisted the team had confidence in Heinicke. "We were really fired up about giving [Heinicke] that opportunity," Rivera insisted.
Washington cornerback Kendall Fuller shared the same thoughts as McLaurin as he also praised Heinicke. "His grit, his willingness to fight, willingness to compete," Fuller said when asked what he saw in Heinicke.
"It definitely motivated the whole team." McLaurin and Fuller weren't the only players from Washington that praised Heinicke as tackle Morgan Moses also spoke extremely highly of the quarterback. "The way he carries himself, he's a true pro," Moses said.
"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." It remains to be seen if Heinicke will be given a contract by Washington.