For most of the first half, it looked like the Washington Commanders were head for another ugly loss. Starting for the injured Carson Wentz, Taylor Heinicke looked overwhelmed and was lucky to escape the opening 30 minutes with one turnover: a pick-six that gave the Packers a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter.
About six of Heinicke’s first seven passes were grossly off the mark and four of them could’ve been intercepted, not including the pick-six.
But it’s not about how you start; it’s about how you finish and Heinicke was virtually flawless over the final two quarters as the Commanders stormed back to beat what is very clearly a middling Packers team. The defense deserves all the credit for stymieing Aaron Rodgers, but Heinicke’s heroics were the story of the game.
After struggling to complete a pass in the first quarter, Heinicke finished 20-of-33 for 201 yards and two touchdowns to one pick. It was a classic Heinicke stat line and performance, but the Old Dominion product did one thing in the game fans likely hadn’t seen from a quarterback in quite some time … maybe forever.
On the huge third down completion to Terry McLaurin late in the fourth quarter, Heinicke’s eyes were closed as he released the football.
We’re not kidding.
Commanders’ Taylor Heinicke’s eyes were closed on his crucial fourth quarter completion to Terry McLaurin vs the Packers.
If you don’t think the Heinicke effect is real after seeing this snapshot of the quarterback with his eyes closed on the biggest play of the game, you’re just a hater. It also speaks volumes the above tweet only has 1,300 likes. Had Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen completed a monster fourth quarter pass with their eyes closed, NFL Twitter would lose its mind. We’d probably be talking about 50k interactions.
Despite not having a clue where the ball was going to land, Heinicke somehow placed it only where his $71 million receiver could get it — high and towards the sideline, knowing McLaurin would out-work Jaire Alexander and make the grab.
Here’s another look at what turned out to be the play of the game.
The Commanders didn’t milk the rest of the clock on the drive, but they forced the Packers to use their remaining timeouts. By the time Washington punted the ball back, Rodgers had just under 30 seconds to work with and the Commanders survived a last-ditch hook and ladder attempt by Green Bay to seal the victory.
With the Packers needing only a field goal to reclaim the lead, who knows what happens if Heinicke’s no-eyed prayer falls incomplete. He definitely has McLaurin to thank for that, but this key completion further proved that magical (and improbable) things tend to happen when the underdog QB plays.