Joe Judge can't say enough good things about Nick Gates. "He's an all-in team guy." He didn't blink once when they asked him to change positions. "Our thoughts and prayers are with him."— Dan Salomone (@Dan_Salomone) September 17, 2021
The Washington Football Team scored a dramatic divisional win on "Thursday Night Football," as they defeated the New York Giants 30-29. Taylor Heinicke overcame a fourth-quarter interception to lead Washington on a game-winning drive -- setting Dustin Hopkins up for a 43-yard field goal.
Ron Rivera and his staff knew they didn't have to stress about losing starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick for 6-8 weeks with a hip injury, because they had a special backup waiting in the wings in Heinicke. He completed 34 of 46 passes for 336 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in his second-ever regular-season start.
Daniel Jones suffered his first career loss to Washington on Thursday, but it was certainly not his fault. The former No. 6 overall pick played great, and completed 22 of 32 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown, and also led the Giants in rushing with 95 yards and a score.
Who said "Thursday Night Football" was boring? We have now had two incredible games in the middle of the week to start off the 2021 regular season. Let's recap all that happened here in Week 2.
Why Washington won
The resilience of Heinicke won this game. Overall, he had an up-and-down performance. At one point, it looked like he was going to be the hero of the game. Five minutes later, it looked like he would take on the majority of the blame for a loss. Fast forward another five minutes, and he had solidified his status as a legend in Washington.
It's hard to believe, but this was Heinicke's second-ever start for Washington -- the first being the incredible playoff loss to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There's clearly something special about this kid. He's not polished, but he's not afraid to attempt a big throw down the field and has completed a few elite tosses that surprised everyone. He raised his stock to an all-time high on Thursday night.
After throwing what appeared to be the game-deciding interception, Heinicke was given another chance. He was able to operate with a short memory and lead his team 50 yards down the field on 11 plays. Not every starting quarterback can do that in this league. His leadership and his competitiveness won out on Thursday night.
Why the Giants lost
The Giants lost because of mistakes. Back-breaking mistakes that ultimately decided the outcome of this contest. I don't think it's fair to blame a loss on one play. But I do think it's fair to blame a loss on a few plays.
Darius Slayton's drop in the fourth quarter is going to be a hard one to forget. Jones looked deep with six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and saw his wideout streaking alone -- the beneficiary of a blown coverage. Despite the pass being perfect, Slayton somehow couldn't reel it in.
It was a touchdown that would have put the Giants up 10 points. Instead, they kicked a field goal to extend the lead to six.
A couple drives later after Washington scored a touchdown to reclaim the lead, James Bradberry intercepted Heinicke in the shadow of his own goalpost. The Giants then decided offensively to try to run some clock and kick what would have been the game-winning field goal instead of going for the death blow. Saquon Barkley rushed for 3 yards in two plays and then Jones missed Sterling Shepard on third-and-7. That opened the door for Washington to win on a field goal.
Finally, on third-and-4 with five seconds remaining in the game, Hopkins lined up for a 48-yard field goal. It went wide right, but there was yellow laundry on the field. Somehow, Dexter Lawrence jumped offsides, which gave Washington another 5 yards and Hopkins another chance to win the game. This time, he didn't miss.
Play of the game
Washington picked up some momentum late in the fourth quarter after holding the Giants to a field goal. Down six points with under five minutes remaining, Heinicke took over and led a two-play, 75-yard touchdown "drive" that took just 17 seconds. J.D. McKissic caught a 56-yard pass to get Washington down the field and then Ricky Seals-Jones made the play of the game -- a 19-yard touchdown catch in the back corner of the end zone.
There were so many candidates for turning points in this game, as it remained interesting until the very end. The moment where we finally found out who was going to win this game came via a penalty flag, as Lawrence jumped offsides and gave Hopkins another chance at what was the game-winning field goal.
Another long Daniel Jones run ruined
One of Jones' career highlights -- or lowlights -- was when he ruined his own 80-yard touchdown on "Thursday Night Football" against the Philadelphia Eagles last season by tripping at the 15-yard line.
Why did Daniel Jones trip on his long run vs. the Eagles? He was just going too fast. According to @NextGenStats Jones reached 21.23 mph, the fastest speed by a QB this season:— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) October 27, 2020
1. Jones 21.23
2. Lamar Jackson 21.01
3. Jackson 20.86
4. Jones 20.64
5. Justin Herbert 20.58 pic.twitter.com/9wiHD7WuKD
Jones had another long touchdown that was ruined in this edition of "Thursday Night Football," but this time it was ruined by a teammate's holding penalty.
While it didn't count, this was still a nice run. Jones is certainly an underrated scrambler who gave Washington problems in Week 2. He also led the Giants in rushing in Week 1 with 27 yards and a touchdown on six carries.
"Dude's a baller man. You can't say enough about No. 4" -- Terry McLaurin on Heinicke
The Washington Football Team travels to Buffalo to take on Josh Allen and the Bills next Sunday. The Bills are preparing for a match with the Miami Dolphins this weekend. As for the Giants, they return to New York next Sunday to play host to the Atlanta Falcons. Matt Ryan and Co. lost their season opener to the Philadelphia Eagles, and play the reigning Super Bowl champion Buccaneers this weekend.