There was plenty for the Washington Redskins to overcome Sunday at FedEx Field. Their special teams had another gaffe. Their defense had few answers for Chicago Bears tailback Matt Forte and failed to deal with backup quarterback Josh McCown.
But none of that mattered because the offense was clicking and put together one final impressive drive late in the fourth quarter, enabling the Redskins to escape with a 45-41 triumph.
“I like happy locker rooms. . . . It’s good to see smiles on guys’ faces,” Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III said. “We had a breakthrough today, and we’ve got to make sure that carries on for the following weeks.”
The Redskins kept their season from unraveling any further and improved to 2-4. It took their best scoring output in a game since a 52-point performance against the San Francisco 49ers in October 2005 to achieve that.
Backup tailback Roy Helu Jr. ran for three touchdowns, the last of them from three yards out with 45 seconds to play, and Griffin threw touchdown passes to rookie tight end Jordan Reed and wide receiver Aldrick Robinson. Linebacker Brian Orakpo contributed a touchdown on an interception return.
“Not to say we were down in the dumps, but we haven’t been playing great,” Redskins tailback Alfred Morris said. “We’ve been making a lot of mistakes, a lot of drops, a lot of missed assignments. It definitely hurts us. We had some mistakes today, but we were able to overcome it. What really matters is we got the win.”
It all was enough but just barely. The Bears got a touchdown by Devin Hester on a punt return. Forte ran for three touchdowns, and the Bears (4-3) remained competitive even after starting quarterback Jay Cutler exited in the second quarter with a groin injury and was replaced by McCown.
McCown threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to tight end Martellus Bennett with just less than four minutes remaining after the Bears were aided by the second personal foul of the game called on Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather. That put Chicago in front 41-38, and the Redskins were staring at the possibility of heading to Denver next weekend with a record of 1-5. But they went 80 yards to get Helu’s third touchdown.
“We sure needed it after being 1-4,” Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said. “You don’t want to dig yourself a bigger hole than we already have dug.”
Griffin threw for 298 yards and ran for 84 more. Morris added 95 rushing yards for the Redskins, and Reed had nine catches for 134 yards.
“I just felt like we were in sync. . . . Last year was a great year for us offensively as a team,” Griffin said. “But just in general for this year, we felt in sync for the first time, I think, most of the game, probably the entire game. And that’s why the scoreboard reflected it.”
The teams traded early field goals before Griffin threw an interception to Bears cornerback Charles Tillman that led to a two-yard touchdown run by Forte. The Redskins regrouped to take the lead on a 14-yard touchdown dash by Helu and Orakpo’s first NFL interception, which he returned 29 yards for a touchdown.
Cutler left the game after being sacked by Redskins defensive lineman Chris Baker. Even so, the Bears got even on the Redskins’ now-weekly special teams gaffe. They had vowed to fix their special teams after surrendering a punt-return touchdown and a 90-yard kickoff return a week earlier in Dallas. But Hester sprinted all the way across the field from left to right, then raced to the end zone for an 81-yard touchdown. It was his 13th career touchdown on a punt return, extending his league record.
“He crossed the field 50 yards,” Redskins special teamer Niles Paul said. “It was an exceptional return. But we should have made the play. He should be contained. He shouldn’t be able to get out there.”
The Redskins avoided another special teams calamity when Paul recovered Josh Morgan’s fumble on the ensuing kickoff return. That became even more important when the Redskins used that drive to take the halftime lead on Griffin’s three-yard touchdown lob to Reed.
The Bears pulled even in the third quarter on Forte’s 50-yard touchdown. He broke free into the secondary and maneuvered around Meriweather as cornerback DeAngelo Hall was blocked by Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall. But the Redskins had an immediate response, going to a no-huddle offense for the final portion of drive that ended with Helu’s three-yard touchdown.
Forte’s third touchdown, a six-yard run, tied the game again early in the fourth quarter. The Redskins once more had a quick reply as Griffin found Robinson for a 45-yard touchdown. Place kicker Robbie Gould’s 49-yard field goal narrowed the Bears’ deficit to 38-34, and the Redskins caught a break when Chicago was called for being offside to negate its recovery of an onside kick on the following kickoff.
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