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Washington Eke Out Last Minute 34-30 Win Over Atlanta

By Mark Solway | October 4th, 2021

Taylor Heinicke and the Washington Football Team saved their best for last. Washington scored two highlight-reel touchdowns in the final five minutes, to steal a 34-30 win over the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes Benz Stadium on Sunday.

For much of Sunday’s game it looked like Washington’s continued defensive struggles may cost them. Matt Ryan and the league’s third worst offense, still hung 374 yards on Washington. Ryan threw four touchdown passes, and was 25 of 42 for 283 yards.

Fortunately for Washington, Heinicke had other ideas. Playing in front of family and friends in the metropolitan city that he grew up in, Heinicke pulled a proverbial rabbit out of his helmet in the last five minutes.

Victory monday

Magic Act I

His first little piece of  magic came with 3:52 to go. Heinicke evaded one Atlanta pass rusher, and with another rusher in his face and the quarterback falling backwards, he threw up a prayer to Terry McLaurin. McLaurin seized the opportunity and beat two defenders in the end zone, to make the 17-yard touchdown grab.

That put the score at 30-28 for the Falcons, but Washington failed to convert the two-point conversion. With less than four minutes to play, and the WFT struggling to get the Atlanta offense off the field all day, it looked like it might be too little too late.

The WFT defense showed some moxie, and dug in when it mattered most. They forced an absolutely crucial three-and-out from Atlanta, and got Heinicke the ball back with just under two minutes to play (1:47).

Magic Act II

On the ensuing drive, Heinicke seemed to thrive in the moment. The quarterback grabbed two big chunks of yards, on a 24-yard pass to DeAndre Carter, and a 19-yard pass to Adam Humphries. Washington were in field goal range at the Atlanta 30-yard line.

With just forty-five seconds to go, Heinicke dropped back on a 3rd and 7 and rolled to his left. None of the four would-be receiving targets were open.

But running back J.D. McKissic sensed the lack of options and slipped out into the right flat. Heinicke made a daring throw back across the field to McKissic, who was open, who had space, and who was off to the races. McKissic bolted for the end zone, but defenders converged on him as he neared the edge of the end zone. It didn’t look like he was going to make it.

McKissic wasn’t going to be denied. He bravely left his feet at about the four-yard line, and soared for the pilon. It was a fantastic effort.

There was no indication initially that it was a touchdown, but the back judge came in and called it a touchdown. Instant replay checked it, but couldn’t find anything concrete to overturn it, and Heinicke and McKissic had given Washington the lead with just thirty-three ticks left on the clock.

Atlanta failed to score on their last possession. It finished 34-30 and Heinicke and the Washington Football Team had their second win of 2021.

Heinicke Making His Claim

The 28-year old Washington quarterback finished the day completing 23 of his 33 passes for 290 yards. Heinicke really spread the ball around, finding nine different targets on the afternoon. He also picked up 43-yards rushing on 5 carries. It may not have been the prettiest of performances from Heinicke, but he was money when it mattered most. The most important stat after all, is always the “W”.

He’s making a great case for keeping the job, beyond when Ryan Fitzpatrick returns from injury.

McLaurin led all Washington receivers with 123 yards on six receptions, to go with his two touchdowns. McKissic finished with 44 yards receiving on 5 catches, and of course, the winning touchdown.

Washington fans also got to see Curtis Samuel make his debut. He finished with 19 yards on four catches.

The Good

Washington wide receiver and kick returner DeAndre Carter should be given a lot of credit for getting Washington back into the game. He opened the second half, by returning Atlanta’s kickoff 101 yards to the house for a touchdown. He tied Brian Mitchell and Rashad Ross for the the longest kickoff return touchdown in franchise history.

The Bad

An Atlanta offensive line that has struggled, managed to hold the WFT defense to just one sack from Montez Sweat. For most of the game, there was little pressure again from the Washington front four.

But they did make a big stand at the end of the game that was critical. Hopefully they can build off of that, and get to playing the football they are capable of.

The Ugly

It was a terrible game for Washington injury-wise. Logan Thomas left the game in the first quarter with a hamstring injury. Cam Sims also left the game with a hamstring injury.

Brandon Scherff hobbled to the locker room in the third quarter with a knee injury. Jon Bostic left the game with a pectoral injury that might jeopardize his season.

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