Heinicke thought he scored on both non-touchdowns vs. Packers originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Trailing by two touchdowns early in the third quarter, the Washington Football Team offense appeared to have some momentum.
On the tenth play of an impressive Washington drive, quarterback Taylor Heinicke scampered for three yards, dove across the goal line and into the end zone for what appeared to be a touchdown. Yet, since all scoring plays are reviewed, the referee crew took an extended look at the play determined that Washington's quarterback gave himself up prior to crossing the plane of the end zone, thus ruling him down at the half-yard line.
Heinicke, of course, disagreed with the call.
"When I was going towards the goal line, I saw a couple of defenders coming in and started pursuing me," Heinicke told reporters in Green Bay postgame. "I didn't know if I was going to take a big hit or not, so I thought 'let's just dive and kind of squeeze my way in there.' So for them to say I was giving myself up on the one-inch yard line, it's their decision to call that but it is what it is."
The quarterback wasn't done discussing the non-touchdown, either.
"I'm trying to score a touchdown. I'm right there," Heinicke added later in the press conference. "That's kind of happened a couple of times this year, whether it's on third down and that new rule where they said you're kind of giving yourself up. I understand it, but on that play I thought it was kind of clear that I was trying to get a touchdown."
Head coach Ron Rivera said postgame that the referee crew informed him that Heinicke was ruled down because they felt he gave himself up. In an effort to protect quarterbacks, the NFL recently changed the rule that quarterbacks are declared down from where they begin their slide.
As a member of the NFL's competition committee, Rvera appreciates the rule change and stated that he thinks overall, the referees have done a good job calling it. Yet, Rivera didn't think that Heinicke gave himself up on that particular play.
"It was disappointing. The interpretation was that he gave himself up," Rivera said. "To me, when he dove and stretched, that didn't look like he was giving himself up."
The drama didn't stop there, though.
On the very next play, Heinicke attempted a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-goal. He was initially ruled short, but replay showed that he fumbled the ball, recovered it and crossed the plane for what should have been a six-pointer.
Yet, after further review, the referees stood with the initial ruling on the field. Heinicke was ruled short and Green Bay would take over. Any momentum Washington had at that time was completely sapped.
After the game, Rivera was asked what the officiating crew explained to him on that second non-touchdown. The head coach did not get a great answer.
"The interpretation they gave me is they couldn't tell if he was down or not," Rivera said. "They're not saying the ball didn't break the plane on the second effort, but what they did say is they couldn't tell that his knee wasn't down. I just thought that he was laying on bodies, and if you're laying on bodies you're not down. But they said they couldn't tell if his knee was down or not."
With Heinicke being ruled short on both plays, Washington's 11-play, 76-yard drive officially ended in zero points.
"I don't want to get into specifics, but I feel like I was in there both times," Heinicke said. "I don't want to get fined up here, but I feel like I was in there both times."
Washington's defense would force Green Bay to punt on the ensuing drive. Heinicke would then lead the offense down the field once again only to get stopped on four consecutive plays inside the red zone once more.
Faltering in the red zone was a common theme for Washington throughout the afternoon, as the group scored just three points on four trips inside Green Bay's 20 yard line. Washington would finish the game with 126 yards more than the Packers, yet it was Green Bay who earned the Week 7 victory, 24-10.
Washington had plenty of chances to score touchdowns on Sunday. Yet, its red zone woes prevented it from every truly having a chance of upsetting the Packers.
"I thought we did well. We didn't punt the ball once," Heinicke said. "We moved the ball on them, we just couldn't finish in the red zone."