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Taylor Heinicke gets one more start Sunday, capping off a season where he finally achieved his NFL dream

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Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke makes a pass during the first half against the Eagles last week.

Taylor Heinicke has reached the finish line, and that, by itself, is an achievement for the Washington quarterback.

Heinicke’s story has been well chronicled, how he was close to giving up his NFL dream, and taking math classes at ODU when he finally got his big break in Washington, starting against Tom Brady in last season’s playoffs.

Then this year, when starter Ryan Fitzpatrick was injured in the opening game and former backup Kyle Allen was still nursing an ankle injury, Heinicke got something even better — he became a starting quarterback in the NFL.

Given his history, there was reason to doubt how long it would last. Heinicke had two previous NFL starts and was seriously injured in both of them.

But during the offseason he added 15 pounds of muscle, and his only missed week this season was due to COVID, not injury.

“Not to say I hadn’t been sore,” Heinicke said Wednesday. “I’m really sore right now. It definitely feels like Week 18. But just to be here without any major injuries, it’s a big step.”

Heinicke will get the final start on Sunday against the New York Giants and acknowledges that the preceding 18 weeks have been everything he’s worked toward his whole life.

“As hard as this season’s been, the roller coaster of ups and downs and COVID, injuries, off-the-field stuff, it’s been a dream come true,” he said. “I’ve wanted to start in this league since I was born. I wish it kind of went a little bit differently, but there’s a lot to learn from. Hopefully I’m here in the coming years.”

Offensive coordinator Scott Turner vouched for that part, telling reporters this week that “Taylor’s gonna be here” in the future.

Heinicke has never before had that assurace entering an NFL offseason.

Heinicke’s stats entering the final game: A 6-8 record, 3,299 yards, 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

Heinicke ends the season with another distinction — he is the quarterback who played the most games for Washington in the “Football Team” era, which will end in February.

“When I wasn’t playing, it was like, ‘What team would you want to play for?’” Heinicke remembers being asked. “And it’s like, well, you don’t want to play for the team with no name. And here we are.”

He laughed. “You just want to be on a team and play football.”

mphillips@timesdispatch.com

Twitter: @michaelpRTD

(804) 649-6546

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