Many thought the Washington Football Team was in store for a world of hurt when Alex Smith was ruled inactive prior to Saturday night’s wild card game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Washington proved be in fine hands with Smith’s backup.
Taylor Heinicke didn’t light the world on fire, but his showing in Washington’s first-round loss certainly is worthy of praise. Heinicke, an undrafted free-agent signing by the Minnesota Vikings in 2015, threw for 306 yards and logged two touchdowns against the Bucs, who entered Super Wild Card Weekend as one of the hottest teams in the NFL.
Heinicke and Co. ultimately were outdone by a well-rounded offensive performance by Tom Brady and Co. The 27-year-old after the game shared a moment with his short-time former New England Patriots teammate, who offered words of encouragement.
“It’s always really cool when you’re talking to a future Hall of Famer,” Heinicke told NBC Sports’ Peter King. “Probably the best quarterback to ever play the game. It’s a neat experience. He just told me I played a hell of a game, showed a lot of grit out there. And just to keep working. Again, for that to come from him, it’s pretty neat. Not a lot of people get to experience that.”
With Dwayne Haskins out of the picture and Smith’s NFL future uncertain, Washington really could go in any direction at quarterback for the 2021 season. Given how he rose to the occasion against the Bucs, Heinicke probably deserves at least a shot to compete for the starting job.