Pressed into action last week after Ryan Fitzpatrick suffered a hip injury against the Los Angeles Chargers, Heinicke, who became the ninth Washington quarterback to start a regular season game since 2018, rebounded from a slow start Thursday to finish 34 for 46 for 336 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. It doesn’t take an advanced mathematics degree such as the one the former Old Dominion standout was working toward when Washington signed him to its practice squad in December to know that will work.
Heinicke made a pair of perfect throws that gave Washington the lead on a two-play drive in the fourth quarter, including a 19-yard laser to the corner of the end zone where only 6-foot-5 backup tight end Ricky Seals-Jones could catch it. He threw a brutal interception to James Bradberry on the next possession with Washington looking to run out the clock, but after New York had regained the lead with a field goal, he calmly led a two-minute drill to set up Hopkins’s winning kick.
Washington finally hands Daniel Jones a loss: Daniel Jones came into Thursday’s game with a 4-0 record against Washington, making him one of five quarterbacks without a loss against Washington in at least four career starts. The sixth pick in the 2019 draft is no longer a member of that club, which still includes Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, Steve Young and Matt Cassel.
Jones, who is 8-19 against every other team, played well. He was 4 for 4 on New York’s opening drive, an 11-play, 79-yard march that culminated in his six-yard touchdown run on a quarterback draw. The former Duke standout, who famously tripped in the open field on his way to the end zone during a “Thursday Night Football” game against the Philadelphia Eagles last October, appeared to have a second touchdown run in the second quarter, but a holding penalty on wide receiver C.J. Board turned his 58-yard score into a 46-yard gain. The Giants would have to settle for a field goal. Jones finished 22 for 32 for 249 yards with a touchdown. He probably would have improved to 5-0 had Darius Slayton hauled in a touchdown pass on a blown coverage in the fourth quarter that instead bounced off his fingers in the end zone.
Jones certainly would have remained perfect if Dexter Lawrence hadn’t jumped offside on Hopkins’s missed kick as time expired.
Washington’s defense is underwhelming again: Coach Ron Rivera wasn’t ready to lower expectations for his much-hyped defense after Sunday’s dud of a performance against the Chargers, but he might need to reconsider after Thursday’s showing against a Giants offense that ranked 31st in scoring in 2020 and looked every bit as anemic in a Week 1 loss to the Denver Broncos. At the least, coordinator Jack Del Rio’s unit needs to make adjustments before next week’s trip to Buffalo.
Washington managed four sacks against the Giants, two more than it had in last week’s loss. But New York already was without left guard Shane Lemieux, and his replacement, Nick Gates, who normally plays center, was carted off the field with a serious lower leg injury in the first quarter. The defense failed to force a turnover, allowed Jones to rush for 95 yards on nine carries, committed costly penalties and let wide receivers get wide open. The unit deserves credit for limiting New York to 4 for 12 on third-down and for forcing the Giants to settle for field goals throughout the game.
Terry McLaurin torches the Giants again: McLaurin was one of the few bright spots for Washington in its two losses to the Giants last season, with a combined 14 catches for 189 yards and a touchdown in those defeats. Though Bradberry had the game’s only turnover, McLaurin got the best of the Pro Bowl cornerback again. He set a career high with 11 catches for 107 yards and a touchdown.
Unlike last week, when Ryan Fitzpatrick rarely looked McLaurin’s way in the first half, Heinicke called No. 17’s number on the second play of the game and targeted him 13 more times over the course of the game. McLaurin had six catches for 60 yards by halftime. Washington’s offensive line allowed a sack on the opening series and then not for the remainder of the night, giving Heinicke time to find his receivers — especially McLaurin — downfield.
Read below for highlights and more coverage on Thursday night’s game: