The Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins moved the ball in the second half as if it were a game of 7-on-7, with Josh McCown shaking off two seasons of regular-season inactivity while trying to keep pace with Robert Griffin III.
It was one of those games where the last team that scores comes away the winner. It turned out to be the Redskins, who got a third touchdown from Roy Helu with 45 second to play Sunday for a 45-41 win.
Griffin completed 18 of 29 passes for 298 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for the Redskins (2-4), who have both of their wins against backup quarterbacks. This time is was McCown, who entered in the second quarter after Jay Cutler left with a groin injury.
Griffin also ran 11 times for a season-high 84 yards against a Bears defense depleted by injuries, but the breakout performance came from rookie tight end Jordan Reed, who caught nine passes for 134 yards and one touchdown.
McCown, playing in a regular season game for the first time since the 2011 season, completed 14 of 20 passes for 204 yards with one touchdown. Matt Forte rushed for three touchdowns, Alshon Jeffrey had 105 yards receiving, and Devin Hester tied Deion Sanders’ NFL record for return touchdowns with an 81-yard put runback for the Bears (4-3).
The Redskins started their final drive with 3:57 to play and trailing by three. Milking the clock, they converted three third downs — including a 10-yard pass to Reed on third-and-4 inside the 20 — before Helu’s 3-yard run put Washington ahead for good.
The Bears had taken a 41-38 lead on McCown’s 7-yard pass to Martellus Bennett, but that was only a sliver of a back-and-forth finish.
Forte’s third touchdown — a 6-yard run up the middle — tied the score at 31 early in the fourth quarter, but the Redskins went back ahead less than two minutes later when Griffin threw deep to Aldrick Robinson, who snagged a 45-yard touchdown catch while defensive backs Charles Tillman and Chris Conte were tumbling to the turf.
Then it was the Bears’ turn, although a couple of Redskins blitzes disrupted McCown enough to force a field goal instead of a touchdown. Robbie Gould’s 49-yard cut Washington’s lead to 38-34 with 8:39 to play.
The Bears tried an onside kick and recovered the ball, but they were ruled offsides and kicked deep on their second kickoff attempt.
In the first half, Griffin, who threw only five interceptions last season when he was the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year, was picked off for the sixth time in 2013 when Tillman stepped in front of Leonard Hankerson and returned the ball to Washington’s 10-yard line. Forte scored two plays later to give the Bears a 10-3 lead.
The Redskins tied it on Helu’s 14-yard run, giving the team just its second first-half offensive touchdown this season. Washington then took the lead when Jeffrey juggled a high pass from Cutler until the ball popped into the hands of linebacker Brian Orakpo, who returned his first career interception 29 yards for his first career touchdown.
Cutler was injured when he was brought down early in the second quarter on the first career sack by 333-pound nose tackle Chris Baker. Cutler clutched at the top of his left leg and limped off the field.
McCown looked understandably rusty in his first few plays, but Hester was there to restore some Bears momentum with his big punt return. It was his 19th career return touchdown and the third special teams touchdown allowed by the Redskins in three games.
Reed’s 3-yard touchdown catch with 27 seconds remaining in the first half put the Redskins ahead 24-17, their first halftime lead of the season.
The teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter, with Forte making a nice stutter-move on a 50-yard run, and Helu scoring from 3 yards out.