Taylor Heinicke’s blind faith in Terry McLaurin proves the difference

Washington Commanders receivers caught just one of quarterback Taylor Heinicke’s first seven attempts. The same can be said of Green Bay defenders. And honestly, Packers defenders could have, and likely should have, picked off two or three more wayward passes during a less-than-stellar first half for the burgundy and gold’s backup-turned-starter.

Mercifully for the hometown fans (who might have been outnumbered by cheeseheads at FedEx Field on Sunday), Heinicke settled down after a horrid start and played his way into a rhythm — spearheading a rally after Washington fell behind 14-3 less than two minutes into the second quarter.

For as bad as he played in the first half, Heinicke clearly must have been inspired after seeing Super Bowl winning quarterbacks Joe Theismann, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien — each with a Lombardi Trophy in hand — during the team’s halftime show. The Old Dominion product completed 13 of 16 attempts in the second half, including two huge passes to receiver Terry McLaurin, that turned the tides in Washington’s favor. The first was a 37-yard bomb down the right sideline in the early stages of the third quarter that gave the Commanders their first lead of the afternoon.

The second was a 12-yarder to his favorite target on third-and-9 with 2:13 remaining in the contest that Heinicke threw … with his eyes closed.

While the offense, led by their scrappy undersized quarterback will get the bulk of the headlines, the defense absolutely deserves to be recognized for their efforts. Back-to-back NHL MVP Aaron Rodgers looked downright miserable on the day as he settled for check down after check down. Green Bay’s top receiver on the day was running back Aaron Jones who had nine catches for 53 yards and two touchdown catches.

The Packers ground game, conversely, was nonexistent, as the team finished with just 12 carries for 38 yards. And, for the first time in Rodgers’ prolific career, his team failed to convert a single third down in a game. Other than that though, things are going swingingly for the future Hall of Famer.

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