Houdini Heinicke: Washington beats Falcons 34-30 on late TD

·4 min read

ATLANTA (AP) — Taylor Heinicke ad-libbed a 30-yard touchdown pass to J.D. McKissic with 33 seconds remaining, rallying the Washington Football Team to a 34-30 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

With family and friends cheering him on in the metro area where he grew up, Heinicke completed 23 of 33 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns — two of them in the final 3:52 to pull it out for Washington (2-2).

Both were vintage Heinicke, seemingly improvised out of thin air.

“I feel like it's something I've been doing my whole life,” he said. “That's a good part of my game.”

First, Heinicke eluded Dante Fowler Jr. and delivered an off-balance throw with another rusher in his face that Terry McLaurin, slipping away from two defenders, managed to catch in the back of the end zone for a 17-yard TD.

“No play is ever dead when Taylor's back there,” McLaurin said. “I just knew Taylor was gonna give me a chance.”

Two missed extra points by Dustin Hopkins left Washington still trailing. Heinicke threw high on the two-point conversion, preserving a 30-28 lead for the Falcons (1-3).

The Washington defense forced a punt, giving Heinicke one more chance. He drove his team into field goal range, but it turned out Hopkins wasn't needed.

Rolling to his left, Heinicke didn't see anyone open among four possible targets. McKissic slipped out into the right flat with no one around, Heinicke spotted him, and threw throw back across the field.

“He was the fifth read,” Heinicke said. “No one was open, so I needed to make a play.”

McKissic broke a diving attempt by Deion Jones — the only guy with a chance to make a tackle — took off down the sideline and dove over the pylon for the winning score.

Heinicke's heroics ruined a big day for Atlanta's Cordarelle Patterson, who became the first Atlanta player since 2018 to score three touchdowns in a game.

Patterson hauled in a 42-yard pass from Matt Ryan for Atlanta's longest play from scrimmage this season, giving the Falcons an early 10-0 lead.

He added touchdown catches of 12 and 14 yards.

Patterson led the Falcons in receiving and rushing, finishing with five catches for 82 yards and six carries for 34 yards.

“Obviously frustrating,” Falcons first-year coach Arthur Smith said. “We had multiple opportunities to win that game. We didn't.”

Ryan finished with four TD passes — his most since last season against Minnesota. He also connected with Mike Davis on a 7-yard scoring play that stretched Atlanta's lead to 30-22 after a disputed personal foul penalty on Chase Young allowed the Falcons to keep the ball.

On fourth down, Ryan got away from a couple of rushers before taking a right forearm from Young near the facemask, knocking the quarterback to one knee before he desperately hurled a throw that was picked off by Washington.

Ryan was ruled down, but the penalty on Young allowed the Falcons to keep the ball. They wound up driving for a TD when Davis hauled in a short pass from Ryan and broke at least three tackles to get into the end zone.

DeAndre Carter returned the second-half kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown, giving Washington a 19-14 lead.

Heinicke's first TD pass was a a 33-yarder to McLaurin in the second quarter,


Washington: TE Logan Thomas was knocked out of the game in the first quarter with a hamstring injury. ... OG Brandon Scherff hobbled to the locker room in the third quarter with a knee injury after blocking on a 21-yard field goal by Hopkins. He did not return. ... LB Jon Bostic (shoulder) and WR Cam Sims (hamstring) were also injured on a tough day physically for the visiting team.

Falcons: CB Isaiah Oliver was carted off the field in the first half with a knee injury and didn't return. ... P Cameron Nizialek injured his right hamstring injury while kicking off. He was able to limp back on the field to do the holding for kicker Younghoe Koo on an extra point, but Koo had to take over the kickoff and punting duties the rest of the game.


Washington: Return home next Sunday to face another NFC West team, the New Orleans Saints.

Falcons: Head to London next Sunday to take on the New York Jets at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.


Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and his work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry


More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Paul Newberry, The Associated Press

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting