In a 29-19 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, Washington Football Team quarterback Taylor Heinicke had his second-best quarterback rating as a starter in the 2021 season.
Completing 26 of his 32 pass attempts, Heinicke victimized the Bucs pass defense for 256 yards and one touchdown while not turning the ball over at all, and having just one really bad throw which could have potentially turned into a turnover.
It was the cleanest game we've seen Heinicke play as an NFL quarterback.
"I just told myself today when I was driving in, 'go out there and have fun. Give it all out there.'," Heinicke said. "This time last year, I didn't know if I was going to play again. ... It's a dream come true and it's something you just want to keep doing."
Before this game, his highest rating as a starter was 127.1, and it came in Week 4 against the Atlanta Falcons.
In that outing, Heinicke completed nearly 70 percent of his passes for 290 yards and three touchdown passes with no interceptions. That win was just a four-point margin of victory compared to the 10-point spread in this week.
Either way, it appears the WFT quarterback enjoys playing against NFC South opponents.
In three of his four appearances against the division as a Washington quarterback, Heinicke has put together impressive individual performances, even though his team is 2-2 in those games.
Of course, this includes the January 2021 Wild Card Round contest against the Bucs when Heinicke threw for 306 yards and one touchdown. His quarterback rating wasn't in the 100 range like his games against the Falcons and Tampa Bay this regular season, but his toughness (especially when adding 46 rushing yards and a score) and near upset of the eventual Super Bowl Champions gave rise to the "Heinicke Hive.''
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And who can forget defensive end Chase Young emphatically pointing to the quarterback's jersey nameplate?
Of course, the one really bad performance against the NFC South was really bad. 248-yards, while completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes, with two interceptions in a 33-22 loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week 5.
This game is all about tendencies and breaking them at the right time. When you only have nine career regular-season starts, three against the same division, and 66 percent of those went swimmingly, then it's something to build on.
Which is what Heinicke is trying to do.
"A win against anybody is nice, let alone against Tampa Bay and the champs," Heinicke said. "It's a big win for us. It's something to build off of and the confidence going into these next few weeks will be huge."
Indeed, the next few weeks will be huge for Washington. Next week, the team travels to Carolina for a date with head coach Ron Rivera's former team, the Panthers, and his old quarterback, Cam Newton.
If his current quarterback can run his string of strong outings against NFC South opponents to three of four this season, then there's a chance for another upset win.
Something to consider, at 5-5, the Panthers currently hold the last spot in the NFC Playoff picture. Heinicke has a chance to be a spoiler ... and maybe more. Again.