Before Saturday Night, Taylor Haynick was famous for his exploits in the Old Dominion and his ability to celebrate an XFL victory.
This is no longer the case.
Heinicke made a valiant effort on Saturday night at A. 31-23 Loss of the Wild Card to Tampa Bay, completing 26 of 44 passes at 306 yards, one landing and one interception, and engineering Washington’s surprisingly effective attack in the second half ended as a game with a single score.
“He took advantage of [the opportunity]Washington coach Ron Rivera said, “He did a great job for us. We were really excited to give him his chance today.”
Without Heinicke, it’s fair to wonder if Washington has anything more than a boxer opportunity against Tampa Bay. Washington’s usually gritty defense struggled to get Tom Brady and forced a total of just three balls to 12 possessions, dropping 31 points in a game that ended up scoring points higher than expected. This left Heineki as a front for Washington’s best chance for victory, and he put together a performance Rivera called “The Brave.”
Heinicke went beyond expectations, leading two second-half touchdowns and another ending with a field goal to keep Washington close to the end. It wasn’t until after Tampa Bay squeezed the pressure late that Heinicke ran into struggles, overcoming an early objection to create a game viewers were watching on Twitter with a backlash of inspiration and amazement.
Heinicke was calm under pressure, clearing the field and hitting targets at a variety of depths and locations. Washington’s attack went from sleeping unit to unit with the ability to go down to the field and score at any time, all thanks to Heinicke’s composure and delivery.
“He did a lot of plays. He had a lot of poise,” Buccaneers coach Bruce Ariane said of Henke after the match.
Heinicke’s best play wasn’t his arm, but his legs, as he escaped from a collapsed pocket, rolled left and rushed toward the front pylon, diving and reaching a full stretch while reaching the ball out for the foam level indicator. Heinicke hit the pylon with the ball, bypassing the goal line for the sake of a touchdown that made teammate Chase Young point to Heinicke’s board and point toward the camera with a clear message: Remember that name. After the match, Heinicke said after the plunge he played through a disconnected AC joint which later saw him briefly out of the match after taking a hit, but returned to the offensive leadership that followed.
Rivera said: “They respect the players who go out there and play hard and give everything they can.” “It’s easy to get behind a guy like that. And that’s what really happened, these guys just left Taylor. They rallied around him and vied for their ass. They really did. I’m really proud of this group of guys.”
Henke’s future doesn’t seem to be in football after the surprise coup on XFL, but when Washington needed it, she summoned Heineki. Former passersby introduced Old Dominion and St. Louis Battle Hook, potentially creating new opportunities for himself somewhere in the NFL.
His next destination has yet to be decided, but for one night, he was the Washington midfielder, the start of the playoff. And Heineke conceded, even after the defeat.