LANDOVER, Md. — In a battle of winless NFC East teams and young, unproven quarterbacks, the unheralded Taylor Heinicke out-duked the 2019 sixth overall pick Daniel Jones, survived a couple of close scrapes and saw his Washington Football team win 30-29 on a last-second field goal.
A back-and-forth affair all night long, Heinicke - the undrafted fourth-year Old Dominion product - rebounded from an interception thrown deep in his own territory that set up the Giants to take a 29-27 lead with two minutes left. Heinicke marched Washington down the field and into scoring range. Dustin Hopkins first attempted a 48-yard field goal and missed wide right with time expiring. But the Giants drew an offsides penalty and Hopkins made the 43-yarder to win the game.
Each team entered Thursday night seeking rebounds from disappointing season-opening losses, and with questions looming large over the quarterback position.
New York’s Daniel Jones has yet to establish himself as a capable starter three years after going sixth overall in the draft. Meanwhile, a hip subluxation suffered by Week 1 starter Ryan Fitzpatrick forced Washington to turn to Taylor Heinicke, who entered the game with only nine appearances in his four-year NFL career.
Jones’ struggles have involved accuracy and ball security. He ranked 31st in completion percentage last season, and for his career has completed 62.08% of his passes. And in 28 games, he has lost 18 fumbles while throwing 22 interceptions.
But Washington always seems to be the get-right opponent for Jones. He entered the game with a 4-0 record against the team, and an improved completion clip of 68.25%.
Thursday night, Jones again shined versus Washington. He completed 22 of 32 attempts for 249 yards yards and a touchdown, and also hurt Washington with his legs while rushing for 95 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. But his impact could have been even greater.
Jones had a 58-yard touchdown run called back because of holding. And Jones saw a wide open Darius Slayton drop a pass in the end zone.
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Heinicke had his ups and downs, but after slow starts in each half, he found his rhythm to direct scoring drives to pull Washington back into the game.
In the second quarter, back-to-back scoring drives enabled Washington to overtake the Giatns for a 14-10 lead. And then in the fourth quarter, a two-play, 75-yard scoring drive capped by a 19-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Seals-Jones put Washington up 27-26 with 4:33 left.
But after a strong stand by the defense, Heinicke threw an interception to New York’s James Bradberry at the Washington 20, setting the Giants up to retake the lead 29-27 on a 35-yard Graham Gano field goal with two minutes left.
But on his final drive, Heinicke completed six of eight passes to pace the 50-yard scoring drive, and finished the game having completed 34 of 46 passes for 336 yards, two touchdowns and the interception.