Washington's Heinicke: I've earned the right to keep the starting job
Taylor Heinicke won his first NFL game as a starter after a thrilling back-and-forth Thursday matchup with the New York Giants, and the Washington Football Team quarterback believes he should remain under center when Ryan Fitzpatrick is ready to return.
"I do. And I have confidence that I can do it," said Heinicke when NFL Network's Michael Irvin asked if the signal-caller believes he's earned the right to keep the job. "If those guys in the locker room and the facility believe in me, that's all that matters, and I think they do."
Fitzpatrick, who joined the NFC East club this past offseason on a one-year deal, is facing a six-to-eight-week absence after suffering a hip subluxation during the team's season opener.
Heinicke will therefore get significant time to keep building his case to be Washington's permanent starter.
The 28-year-old went 34-of-46 passing for 336 yards and two touchdowns against one interception during a 30-29 win over the Giants.
Heinicke's lone turnover did come at a critical point. With Washington at its own 22-yard line and trying to close out the game, cornerback James Bradberry intercepted the passer's short throw. The Giants reclaimed the lead shortly after when Graham Gano kicked a field goal.
But Heinicke rallied Washington and advanced the offense into field-goal range over the final two minutes with several clutch plays. Dustin Hopkins sealed the win for the team after a penalty nullified an initial miss.
Wide receiver Terry McLaurin was Heinicke's go-to target, finishing with 11 catches for 107 yards and a touchdown. He wasn't surprised Heinicke bounced back after the late turnover to earn the victory.
“He's always ready for his moment, and I love guys who are always ready for their moment, always prepared," McLaurin said, according to Nicki Jhanvala of The Washington Post. "When you got a guy like that, you just want to continue to make plays for him."
Heinicke became a fan favorite after starting for an injured Alex Smith during last year's wild-card round loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He helped Washington stay within two points entering the fourth quarter before the Bucs pulled away late for a 31-23 win.