Landover, Maryland – “A public figure loved by a relatively small group” is how Urban Dictionary defines the term “cult hero” – with one important addition: “It doesn’t have to be successful.”
The last point is often irrelevant in creative fields such as popular music, acting, or abstract painting. These artists, who are usually a step or three outside the spotlight or a marquee, may want and possibly receive life-changing salaries or awards. The effort, combined with their inspiring imagination and sheer personality, produces loyal fans.
Among the notable sports figures in recent years, Team Leaders quarterback Taylor Hynek has made the list of fun. His hero cult membership was printed during the 2020 wild card playoff against Ultimate Super Bowl champion Tampa Buccaneers. Although he lost that start, his first with Washington, fans were stunned by Hennecke’s dip in edifice and fearlessness. Eighteen starts later, and the joy remains.
But attendance in sports is not enough. The score is kept, and outside of certain larger-than-life moments, the work presented is only important until the next game, match, or show. Hinke’s last two appearances sum this up.
One week ago, Heinicke made his last comeback in the final quarter with a victory over Indianapolis as The Commanders scored 10 points on the final 4:55 for the third straight win. On Sunday at FedExField, with a chance to extend Washington’s rush, the intrepid cult champ fell from the high wire.
Heinicke’s fourth-quarter interception relegated the Minnesota and tied the Vikings behind former Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins with 13 consecutive points in the recent period. Instead of moving above 0.500 for the first time since the first week of the 2020 season and rewarding a racy crowd, the leaders lost 20-17.
“That’s football, man,” said the persecuted Heinek. “You are on top of the world one week, and then you feel like everything is falling apart the next day. … But that was hard.”
After the match, no one commented on the loss to Henick, who started for the third time since Carson Wentz was put into injured reserve after breaking his finger in the October 13 win over Chicago. They shouldn’t. His often impromptu performances, including a pair of touchdown passes, helped turn a 7-3 first-half deficit into a 17-7 lead with 14:14 remaining.
“Taylor made one mistake,” said Logan Thomas, the intended target at the interception. “Before that, he was breeding. He made plays that didn’t even exist. … Everyone makes mistakes in this game, multiple mistakes, but they don’t get as highlighted as the objection.”
.MustafaHosny Oh God, Amen She has more catches than some WRs this season.
📺: Tweet embed pic.twitter.com/pYo9mxVo4D
– Minnesota Vikings November 6, 2022
The problem with Heinicke, or other midfielders of his level, is that the margin for error is very slim. Difference could be one of the mistakes – especially if the player lacks the goods to choose his team. Few in this league do. Heinicke’s limits – less than ideal size and arm strength – are more straightforward than others.
In the third quarter, Washington (4-5) called Heinicke a fourth-and-a-half from Minnesota 38. The pass to Terry McLaurin was not completed.
“It was something we loved,” Heinicke said of the theatrical call. “It didn’t work out for us today.”
Then came his objection. The second and fifth pass over center to 6-foot-6 Thomas from Washington’s 30-yard line with 8:09 left wasn’t wise. But the foul came less than three minutes after a Minnesota goal by Greg Joseph from 25 yards, put the Vikings in short field and momentum despite trailing 17-10.
“If he (Henike) drops (that throw), he’ll hit (Thomas) right in the chest,” said coach Ron Rivera. “But unfortunately, I got away with it.”
Taylor Hynek on the objection. pic.twitter.com/Kt66IAYC0j
– Ben Standig (@BenStandig) November 6, 2022
After an opening touchdown campaign, Washington’s defense kept Minnesota goalless for most of the game. Two games later after Heinicke intercepted, Cousins made a perfect throw to run back Dalvin Cook on the road of a wheel to land with 7:52 remaining.
Our RB will be WR1.Tweet embed
📺: Tweet embed pic.twitter.com/Y4RiFRUMx7
– Minnesota Vikings November 6, 2022
“No one will ever be more cruel than me,” said Henicki. “It goes back to that objection to me. If we don’t give them a short span there, our defense lights up. Have them lead the field.”
Washington’s attack followed with three and an exit. Minnesota took over at 46 and began a 15-game rally that burned all but 12 seconds on the clock before Joseph’s 28-yard goal.
The leaders could have had just under two minutes with a chance of a tie, but John Ridgway’s defensive line was blown due to an unnecessary penalty kick. NFL Senior Vice President Walt Anderson explained to a rally reporter that Ridgway “make forced contact” with the head and neck area of Andrew Dypaola’s long snapper in Joseph’s initial attempt.
Minnesota accepted the penalty, made three more plays and then kicked again, although Washington tried to let the Vikings score a touchdown to ensure more time to attack.
“We didn’t take chances,” Rivera said. “Enough of mistakes everyone has to go.”
Each team makes “What the hell was that?” Play. Heinicke’s deep pass qualified for triple coverage early in the third quarter. Besides, rear judge Steve Patrick inadvertently hit Vikings Camryn Bynum safety, creating enough space for Curtis Samuel to pick up the fairway for a 49-yard touchdown.
Kurtko TD ⚡️⚡️⚡️
📺 #MINvsWAS Fox pic.twitter.com/yx4sMXTaww
Washington leaders (leaders) November 6, 2022
“are you kidding me?” Rivera’s initial reaction was. “I saw (Taylor) throw it away, and I was like, ‘Oh oh. “
Having fallen to the ground, Heinicke did not see completion. When watching a replay, give appropriate credit: “The referee gave us a great play.”
The traditional plays were fleeting. Washington turned 3 of 10 attempts down third and finished with 263 net yards, with only 96 before the break. Heinicke completed 15 of 28 passes, including a 7-yard touchdown to wide receiver Dax Milne, but for only 149 yards–or only 100 yards on all unassisted throws.
Heinicke has five touchdown passes and three interceptions by three starts this season after 20 and 15, respectively, in 16 games – 15 starts – in 2021.
Washington did not play clean football in victories over Chicago, Green Bay and Indianapolis. In their current form, these teams were unable to take advantage of the leaders’ mistakes or limitations. Minnesota, now 7-1, reached the Cousins’ first game in Washington since 2017 with a five-game winning streak.
Earlier in the week, Rivera described the match as a “measuring stick” game.
“I thought we could win,” the coach said after the match. “That’s how I looked at her.”
NFL games are often one-tier; Teams can play the very close card. But Washington does not have the goods to blow up opponents. They have scored more than 17 points just once since the second week.
Cousins, who are so subtle and credible, are often ridiculed for their flaws in big games. He signed a fully guaranteed contract with Minnesota in 2018, the season after the Vikings reached the NFC Championship game. They haven’t come close since, although this campaign looks promising for a 7-1 team on its best start since 2009. Cousins and teammates shouted, “Do you like it?!” In the visiting locker room.
You already know what Tweet embed He was doing a post-match game. pic.twitter.com/yqa0hj1w2g
– Minnesota Vikings November 6, 2022
We find ways to win, said Cousins. “We keep working and keep trying to finally get them out here.”
Washington might have found a way to win if it hadn’t been for Benjamin St. Giusti’s 38-yard pick Canceled with a penalty that interferes with passingWhen he and Justin Jefferson showed up, they had a hand-to-hand fight. The defensive front flagged Cousins over and over, with 11 QBs and Jessin, yet the quarterback never backed off en route to a 265-yard pass and two touchdown passes.
“I mean, if you could just stand there and take licks like that and throw the ball out on the field, I’d recommend you, because you’re so tough,” said Daron Payne.
Washington has searched for a replacement for Cousins since the decade-long talks failed. They fail repeatedly. Heinicke, 9-9, has the second-highest winning percentage among Washington Novices behind Alex Smith since 2000.
That includes Cousins (26-30), but Cousins was 24-23-1 during his three-year start in Washington full-time, and the teams willing to pay him big money is a reflection of his upside. He may have never won or played in the Super Bowl. Cousins offer at least a chance to beat the bugs if they get there.
It’s possible that the season might already be over for Washington’s playoff hopes if Heinicke hadn’t played his brand of bravery. For Rivera, that means “roller coaster” ride.
“(The midfielders) throw the ball over people’s heads all the time,” Thomas said. “(The Vikings) put in the right play at the right time with the right coverage. …I mean, obviously, at that point in the game, (objection) is bad. For us, we will come back to it and move on.”
They will do this with a fan favorite who has reached the rank of champion. It’s hard to see Heinicke succeed enough to escape this level. Same for leaders who jumped from the middle class in the league to the contender class if they don’t eventually find someone a little better.
(Photo: Todd Olszewski/Getty Images)