The Washington Football Team defeated the Las Vegas Raiders 17-15 on Dec. 5. (AP Photo)

By Mark F. Gray
Special to the AFRO

Normally there’s no cashing in on the numbers six and four in one of the casinos on the strip in Las Vegas. However, the Washington Football Team was money for the sixth time this season thanks to the heroics of their quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who wears number four and marched them into position for a game winning field goal to give them a 17-15 win over the Raiders.

Heinicke finished 23 for 30 for 196 yards and led Washington to its fourth game-winning drive as a first year starting quarterback in the nation’s capital.  He responded from a bad interception in the fourth quarter where his arm was hit as he tried completing a pass into triple coverage, which helped the Raiders grab the lead that almost put them back into title contention in the AFC West Division.

“We’re not a star-studded roster,” said Washington defensive tackle Jonathan Allen. “We don’t have those big celebrities. We’re not an L.A. or whatever the case may be, and we just don’t care what anybody says. We believe in ourselves. We went out there and played hard.”

Washington’s fourth straight win brought them to 6-6 with the Dallas Cowboys visiting next Sunday at FedEx Field. 

 Once again quarterback Taylor Heinicke – wearing uniform number 4 – rallied his team to another improbable road victory. Heinicke’s resilience was tested once again after his fourth quarter interception that appeared to have sealed their fate.  Washington’s tiring defense allowed the Raiders to score on successive drives to take a 15-14 lead when Daniel Carlson hit a 37-yard field goal that was set up by Nate Hobbs’ interception.

“What can you say about him?” Allen said. “He just keeps showing why he needs to be our quarterback.”

The Football Team has found a consistent formula that has worked over the last month, which has kept them within striking distance of the Cowboys since opening the season at 2-6. As Washington began climbing back into the playoff hunt, Antonio Gibson has been carrying the load at running back and Sunday was no different. 

Gibson rushed 23 times for 88 yards and played physically against a tough Las Vegas defense.  According to Fox Sports, the Washington ball carrier had been told by the coaches to attack the defense with the ball and it was  his aggressiveness and toughness that helped wear down the Raiders for the third week in a row. 

That he finished with 88 total yards and a touchdown catch only tells part of his story. Gibson is the consistent presence who has become the centerpiece of a new commitment by Washington to run the football rush attack. Sunday he shouldered that burden and assumed a greater role to take more of the load off Heinicke with McKissic on the sideline.

At 2-6, Washington had the chance to pack the season in.  Instead, they find themselves with a chance to win the NFC east and their fate is in their hands.  After being burdened with characters in the locker room for 20 years it is a team that plays with character. 

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