Game Ball No. 1: Taylor Heinicke
History will remember the weekend of Nov. 14, 2021, as Taylor's weekend. And while we love a certain country-pop singer's melodies as much as the next, for now, we'll pivot the spotlight to Heinicke. Last year, the quarterback was a surprising star and significant thorn in the side of Tampa Bay as he nearly helped Washington overcome the eventual 2021 Super Bowl champs in a wild card game.
Perhaps that standout performance in an almost win could be seen as a bit of foreshadowing to Sunday afternoon. Ten months later, the backup-turned-starter exacted his revenge, finishing off Tampa Bay with 26-of-32 passes completed for 256 yards and a Touchdown. Heinicke had a handful of exciting moments throughout, but perhaps the piece-de-resistance of his game-ball worthy outing was the drive in the fourth quarter that took more than 10 minutes off the clock to keep Tom Brady off the field and secure the win.
Game Ball No. 2: DeAndre Carter
Carter likely wasn't on many lists in terms of who could be a key player for Washington's offense. He was relatively unknown when he joined Washington in the offseason, but that's no longer the case. Today, Carter showed once again why he'll be dubbed one of Washington's most impressive free-agent signings of the year and one of the most team's most pleasant surprises.
With about six minutes left to go in the first half, Carter scored his third touchdown of the year and Washington's first of the game, running a crisp rout to collect a 20-yard pass from Heinicke on 3rd-and-6. The score propelled Washington to a 13-0 lead over the favored Bucs. Carter finished the game with three receptions for 56 yards -- the second most on the team behind McLaurin's 59 yards.
The Washington Football Team comes out of its bye week to take on the Tampa Buccaneers at FedExField in Week 10. (Photos by Emilee Fails and Karlee Sell/Washington Football Team; Joe Noyes/NFL)
Game Ball No. 3: Joey Slye
There was a lot of pressure on Slye coming into this game. Kicking has been a pain point for Washington. The team has missed field goals at critical moments and cycled through two kickers in Dustin Hopkins and Chris Blewitt as a result. Plus, with the Bucs averaging more than 30 points per game this season, Washington knew it needed to grab points whenever possible. Ending drives in points, whether it was seven or three, was paramount if Washington was going to walk out with the win.
Slye understood the assignment. Washington's new kicker made all three of his field goals today, helping Washington take a 6-0 lead in the first quarter and extend its lead, 16-3, in the final minute of the second quarter.
Game Ball No. 4: The entire secondary
As previously mentioned, the Bucs are exceptional at scoring points. A big reason for that is seven-time Super Bowl champion, arguably the best quarterback to ever play the game, a certain man by the name of Tom Brady.
To halt the Bucs' powerful offensive unit, the Washington secondary needed to be on its game today -- and that it was. The Washington secondary forced two interceptions (nearly three), which helped hold Tampa Bay to just 49 plays (as compared to Washington's 71) and ensured Tom Brady was kept off the field as Washington won the time of possession by about 14 minutes.
Brady's final stats -- 220 yards -- were the second lowest of the season thus far.