Behind Heinicke, the Commanders handed the Philadelphia Eagles their first loss of the season, 32-21, and won for the fourth time in their last five games. With Wentz eligible to come off injured reserve this week, Heinicke's potential to remain in command was as topical as Washington knocking its rivals from the ranks of the unbeaten.
"I don't know," Heinicke said when asked after the game if he'd done enough to start when Wentz returns, "there's a lot of mistakes I've made throughout the games, but again, it's one of thing where if my number's called and I have to play, let's go out there and play, and I'm going to try to do the best of my abilities, so we'll see what happens."
Heinicke's final stats didn't glisten at Monday night's end. He completed 17 of 29 passes for 211 yards, no touchdowns, an interception and a 66.9 rating. Nonetheless, he made big throws when needed, and he captained an offense that moved the chains and had the ball for a resounding 40 minutes and 24 seconds. Bottom line, he was the winning quarterback and his record improved to 3-1 as a starter.
"We felt if we could control the line of scrimmage and run the ball, we could slow things down, and that's what we were able to do," Commanders head coach Ron Rivera said. "I mean, the dude's a dynamic quarterback, and he's done a heck of a job."
While Rivera celebrated Heinicke on Monday, he shut down any talk about who will start when Wentz returns until Tuesday.
"We'll talk to you guys tomorrow, we'll talk about that then," Rivera said.
Though Heinicke's stats on Monday were hardly dazzling, the Commanders have become winners with him under center. In contrast, Wentz is 2-4 as Washington's starter this season, which includes a 24-8 loss to the Eagles in Week 3.
There's more to it, of course. The Commanders traded for Wentz to be the guy this offseason after a 2021 campaign in which Heinicke was 7-8 as a starter who threw for 209.7 yards a game, 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
"I said it back in OTAs, we brought Carson in to be the starter, and if my number was called I'd be ready to go in. So, whatever decision they want to make, let's go," Heinicke said. "If I'm backing up Carson next week, great, I'm going to help him any way I can to get ready for that Texas game. The biggest thing for me is let's go win, let's just keep winning, whether it's me playing or not."
Wentz' leadership has drawn criticism in the past, whereas Heinicke has been the underdog who provides a spark and galvanizes his teammates.
"His grit, just the way he plays, he's a guy that, it's hard to beat the underdog mentality sometimes, and I told you guys that's him," Rivera said.
A decision between Heinicke and Wentz will come later, but if this is it for Heinicke as the Commanders' QB1, it was a memorably sensational last start.
"I'd probably say it's the biggest win of my career," Heinicke said. "It's a division opponent, undefeated, their place, Monday night? Can't get much better than that."
There is excitement in the air and wins in the standings for Washington over these last four weeks. Both were largely absent before then. Perhaps Heinicke knocked off Wentz' old team and took his spot on Monday.