Heinicke — Taylor freakin’ Heinicke — was also responsible for the most impressive play of the night, an eight-yard scramble for a touchdown in the third quarter that had Chase Young running on the field to celebrate with him and Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes wondering what the heck he just saw. Heinicke, who may have sparked a run on Heineken in the D.C. area, later revealed that he suffered a separated AC joint in his left shoulder on the play, but didn’t miss a snap.
Heinicke completed 26 of 44 passes and his numbers would’ve been even better if his wide receivers were a bit more sure-handed. Cam Sims, who rebounded to have a nice game with seven catches for 104 yards, dropped a deep ball on a post route on the second play of the game. Isaiah Wright, Sims Jr. and J.D. McKissic all had drops as well. For what it’s worth, Heinicke was bailed out by a drop on one occasion, when Buccaneers safety Jordan Whitehead had an interception slip right through his hands.
Hail: Morgan Moses’s pancake cleats
Right tackle Morgan Moses and the offensive line limited the Buccaneers to two sacks and gave Heinicke ample time to throw for much of the night. Moses did his part while wearing blueberry pancake cleats. The custom flapjack footwear was a nod to the “Morgan Moses pancakes” that area IHOPs added to their menu for one day last week after a social media campaign launched by a couple of local teenage brothers.
NBC headlined its graphic depicting Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Montez Sweat and Chase Young — the four defensive linemen Washington has selected in the first round of the NFL draft over the last four years — “Maroon 4,” which brought back memories of Jim Zorn referring to Washington’s colors, which are burgundy and gold, as maroon and black at his introductory news conference in 2008.
The nickname was much worse than the foursome’s play, though it was an unusually quiet night for the defense. Payne forced a fumble that led to a touchdown and had two of Washington’s three sacks, but after carrying the team for much of the season, defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio’s unit didn’t do quite enough. Brady passed for 380 yards and two touchdowns, while running back Leonard Fournette rushed for 93 yards and added 43 yards receiving.
Hail: History on the sidelines
Saturday marked the first NFL playoff game with female coaches on both sidelines. Jennifer King is an assistant on Ron Rivera’s staff, while Lori Locust and Maral Javadifar are on Bruce Arians’s staff. The trio posed for a photo before the game. Locust, an assistant defensive line coach, and Javadifar, an assistant strength and conditioning coach, were both hired in 2019 and make the Bucs the only team in the NFL with two female coaches. Rivera hired King as a full-year coaching intern in February.
Fail: Troy Apke’s touchback
Rivera wasn’t happy with the officiating in Saturday’s game, and for good reason. Referees missed what should have been a pass interference call on cornerback Carlton Davis in the first half and called a questionable holding penalty on Brandon Scherff that negated a run for a first down by Heinicke in the second half.
On a Tress Way punt in the third quarter, officials called a touchback after Troy Apke picked up the bouncing ball at the 7-yard-line and ran it into the end zone, unsure whether it hit Tampa Bay’s Ryan Smith after it hit the ground. During the broadcast, NBC rules expert Terry McAulay said it was “common sense that [the rule] shouldn’t have been applied” in this instance. (Even had the ball hit Smith, Washington would not have been allowed to advance it.)
This wasn’t how Smith’s remarkable comeback season was supposed to end. Two years and 17 surgeries after suffering a leg injury that threatened his life, Smith endured months of arduous rehab to defy the odds and return to the field in October. Washington went 5-1 in games he started, including last week’s NFC East-clinching win at Philadelphia, but the calf strain he’s been dealing with since Week 14 limited him in practice this week and he was inactive for the game. It’s unclear whether Smith will be part of Washington’s plans in 2021.
Fail: Washington’s playoff win drought
In winning its first playoff game since it hoisted the Lombardi Trophy after the 2002 season, the Buccaneers extended Washington’s playoff win drought to 15 seasons. Washington exceeded expectations in Rivera’s first year, but the franchise is still seeking its first playoff win since January 2006.