At the time, his comments might have sounded like he was talking about normal football – say the right thing, no matter how obvious, and hope and pray that the outcome will come somewhere. In hindsight, the quarterback’s hopes — and his game — were smart, and Monday’s game might have guaranteed him a chance to stay Washington’s starter, regardless of Wentz’s health.
With a heavy reliance on the running game and effective play on third down, the Heinicke Captains did what no other team had done this season: He upset the Philadelphia Eagles, 32-21 On their home soil, no less.
Described as “probably the biggest win of my career”, Heinicke finished 17-for-29 for 211 yards, no touchdowns and an interception for a 66.9 passer rating. Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts went 17-for-26 for 175 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for a 94.2 rating.
For the first time this season, the Chiefs’ offense seemed consistent and methodical as they hit four first-half goals, three of them stretching to 13, 12 and 16 plays. Washington (5-5) scored 13 points in the second quarter while holding the Eagles scoreless, an achievement in itself; Philadelphia (8-1) entered the game having scored nearly 60 percent of their points in the second quarter and still haven’t been shut out.
“We found that one of the best ways to slow down Jalen Hurts’ performance was to get him off the court,” said Leaders coach Ron Rivera.
But her dominance in the first half didn’t stop there. Washington outgained Philadelphia 235 yards to 101, converted 75 percent of their third downs (9 of 12) and made 51 plays for the Eagles’ 19. The most in franchise history, it was capped by a 58-yard field goal (longest of Joey Slay’s career) which built up a 20-14 lead and prompted a round of boos from Eagles fans.
For the game, Washington ran 81 plays for 330 yards, including 152 on the ground, and converted 57 percent of its third downs (12-for-21). It was everything no one expected and more.
said Rivera, who choked in the locker room afterwards.
Two weeks ago, his mother, Delores, passed away after a battle with lung cancer. Amid all of the off-field drama, Rivera assured his team of The importance of maintaining focus.
During the week, he asked his players to let him handle the unimportant stuff. After the game, he fought back tears while telling the players his mom “would have been proud.”
“It means a lot because the players were able to stay focused on what was important,” he said. “…the hard work is starting to pay off.”
After a decisive first half, the leaders opened the second half by forcing a three-and-out and then embarking on another long drive, this game spanning 14 plays and over eight minutes before Slay hit a 32-yard field goal to extend Washington’s lead. lead to 23-14.
Captains have not only united their play over the past two or more seasons under Rivera – they have shown the control and attention to detail that has eluded them in the most critical situations. With Henneck at the helm, Washington plays on the edge, usually one shot away from disaster or glory.
Last week against Minnesota, his deep pass was intercepted above the middle, which cost the leaders dearly Where their three-way winning streak ended. This week, his plays were the difference-makers.
In the second quarter, center Tyler Larsen sent a snap over Heinicke’s head, but the quarterback pulled back, recovered and threw him out of bounds—past the line of scrimmage—only costing Washington a touchdown rather than a good chunk of yardage or worse.
Then on the fourth, during Washington’s final drive, Heinicke lunged away from the pressure and took a knee on third, hitting an unnecessarily rough punt on the Eagles’ Brandon Graham as Graham cut into him.
That last play, we called it a Terry slash [McLaurin]And it was one of those things if it’s open, give it to him, and if it’s not, take a sack,” Heinicke said. “I wouldn’t throw it in unless it was wide open. When I took that knee and saw them coming towards me, I hoped they would come at me, and sure enough they did. It was a mistake on their part but, hey, we’ll live with it.”
The Eagles’ error also exposed Hennek’s growth.
“Very much,” Rivera said. “One of the things he learns, is to take what is given.”
Throughout Monday’s game, the captains were mostly intact, and when they did make a mistake, they struggled to make up for it. They committed and held on to running early (Brian Robinson Jr. finished with 86 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries), opening up the cutting edge of the passing game. They moved the ball, ate up the clock, converted critical third points, and, for the most part, stayed out of their way.
But the first two minutes of the match signaled the start of another first-half disaster. Armani Rogers was flagged for holding the opening kickoff, resulting in a 33-yard loss on a long kickoff return by Antonio Gibson. Then Washington went three times. After a feint penalty that Washington turned the ball back, Heineke was knocked out from his clothes. Philadelphia got the ball back and needed just three plays to find the end zone on Hurts’ one-yard touchdown run.
The Leaders responded with their first long drive, using 10 play plays sandwiched around two big passes – a 26-yard reception by McLaurin on third and second and a 14-yard catch by Jahan Dotson on second and 11. Gibson capped off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
This offense was very different from the one Washington had shown in the previous weeks.
Some errors will follow. Cornerback Benjamin St-Juste was called for interference on a deep pass by Hurts, and although the call looked questionable, it led to another Eagles score, this time a six-yard pass to tight end Dallas Goedert to put Philadelphia up 14-7.
Then it was reported that Washington had held the game on fourth-and-first, prompting offensive coordinator Scott Turner to put his hands up in the booth and intercept on Slay’s 44-yard field goal.
But after an interception by safety Darrick Forrest and two more Washington goals before halftime—a one-yard touchdown run by Robinson and that 58-yard field goal by Slay—the Chiefs had a 20-14 halftime lead. It was the first time in over two years that Washington had scored at least 20 points in the first half.
The Eagles seemed to strike back after Javon Hargrave was sacked in the third quarter by Henick at Philadelphia’s 14-yard line. The takedown forced Washington to settle for a 32-yard field goal that increased their lead to nine. Philadelphia responded with a long drive, using 11 plays as the Hurts threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith to make it 23-21.
It wasn’t a change in Washington’s plans, but given the circumstances, it wasn’t a huge mistake. It was third and third at the Philadelphia 43 when Heinicke launched a rocket up the left sideline towards McLaurin which hung in the air just long enough for safety CJ Gardner-Johnson to come up and grab it.
Heinicke has said in the past that if he had a 50-50 chance with McLaurin he planned to give the receiving star that shot, and his decision to do so here seems wise, even though the outcome was poor. If the throw had gone a little further, the captains would have been steps away from the goal line. Instead, it was picked up, a turnover that ultimately had little consequence.
“He’s been great since he got here — honestly,” McLaurin said. “…he really plays as if every play is his last. He plays fearlessly, man.”
On the subsequent possession, defensive tackle John Ridgway forced a fumble on a short pass to Goedert that was recovered by linebacker Jamyn Davis and returned for a touchdown. The score was overturned on review – but the turnover remained and created another opportunity for Washington to extend their lead. Sly, who was playing the game of his life, kicked a 55-yard field goal with 7:33 remaining to give Washington a 26-21 advantage.
But no game for the Leaders, especially with Heinicke at quarterback, could have ended without late-game theatrics. This time it came with permission from the defence.
Hurts fired a 50-yard pass to Quez Watkins, who fumbled in the grass, then came back and then lost control of the ball when St-Juste hit him. Forest recovered the fumble to end what could have been a winning campaign.
“We definitely entered this game knowing that no one believed in us,” Forrest said. “…we came ready to fight.”
With his team poised for the win in the closing minutes, Dotson was reported for offensive pass interference, which led to a 21-yard deflection by Curtis Samuel on third down. But after the punt, defensive end Montez-Sweet thwarted another Philadelphia drive with a sack on third down.
Then Heinicke stuck with the plan: turn third down, and keep the lead.
On third and seventh with McLaurin covering tightly, Heineke scrambled before taking a knee and slamming the penalty on Graham earning the leaders a new set of slips and a chance to stop the clock.
When Philadelphia finally got the ball back, Casey Tuhill recovered a desperate lateral for a touchdown on the game’s final touchdown, allowing Washington to secure the win and Heinecke to the tunnel in celebration.
“We felt that if we could control the line of scrimmage and run the ball, we could slow things down, and that’s what we were able to do,” Rivera said before tending to the ball. “I mean, the guy is a dynamic quarterback and he’s done a good job – and Galen isn’t a bad guy either.”