The Washington Football Team coach was asked about Heinicke bouncing back after a late interception in Sunday’s 17-15 win over the Las Vegas Raiders — Washington’s fourth straight victory, giving them a 6-6 record heading into Dallas week against the Cowboys.
“The biggest thing with him is that he … wants a chance to redeem himself and that’s all he needed. He got an opportunity and you can see it in his eyes when he comes to the sideline that he knew he made a mistake and he knew he just needed a chance to redeem himself,” Rivera said. “And we were fortunate enough to do that.”
He’s looking in Heinicke’s eyes.
How much does the coach love the longshot quarterback who has resurrected a team given up for dead a month ago? Well, how about we turn to the Bible’s Book of Samuel?
After the previous week’s win over Tampa Bay, Rivera said: “I think the thing that we all have to look at is as far as the David and Goliath is it’s a little bit broader than just that. One of the things that we talked about when I first introduced it. Honestly, I’ve been kind of saving it for the next time we faced Tampa. I knew it would be because pretty much nobody gave us a chance. And so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to bring it out.
“The players bought into it. They see it, they recognize it. One of the things that I told them. If you remember anything from this, it’s that basically for every question, there was an answer. For every problem, there is a solution. For every Goliath, there was a David. For every giant, there was a stone. And we’ve stuck to that. It’s a little bit of a mantra, but that’s okay. As long as they get it and understand it, it’s been a very viable thing for us, and the players have handled it very well. It’s kind of cool because the hype video that we show them every week, there is a connection to it. And then the postgame celebration has been a little bit like that as well. It’s something that we have to continue to cultivate and I’m going to use going forward because I think it’s something that these guys resonate very well with.”
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Heinicke is David, and, let’s face it, every team and quarterback the 28-year-old journeyman faces each week is Goliath.
On Sunday, Goliath was Derek Carr, the Las Vegas Raiders’ $125 million quarterback who was leading the NFL in passing before the 17-15 loss to the Washington Football Team. Heinicke tossed a rock right at the Raiders’ head, leading his team on the last-minute drive that led to Brian Johnson’s 48-yard game-winning field goal.
Rivera made it clear that his team has bought into the David and Goliath narrative — “it’s something that these guys resonate very well with” — and defensive tackle and team leader Jonathan Allen made it clear they see Heinicke as their David.
“You guys, everybody who doubts us and doesn’t believe in us — and rightfully so,” Allen said after the win over the Raiders. “We’re not a star-studded roster. We don’t have those big celebrities. We’re not an L.A. or whatever the case may be. We just don’t care what anybody says, we believe in ourselves … Every NFL team is filled with stars and for us to go out there and do that was huge.
“You know, it wasn’t perfect,” Allen said. “We have a lot of mistakes to clean up, but damn when you do something like that, that’s special. I mean, (Taylor) Heinicke, what can you say about him. He just keeps on showing why he needs to be our quarterback.”
Not “should” be our quarterback, but “needs to be our quarterback.”
If Washington has adopted a team identity of the underdog, the disrespected, the dismissed, there is no greater symbol of that than Heinicke, whose story about being bounced around from team to team and winding up on his sister’s couch a little more than a year ago has been well documented by now.
Speaking of well documented, Christmas Day will be the debut of the film, “American Underdog,” the true story of an unknown former grocery store clerk who became a Super Bowl-winning quarterback.
I’m not saying that Heinicke is Kurt Warner yet. But he should at least get an invite to the premiere.
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