LANDOVER, Maryland (Reuters) - Robert Griffin III was his old dynamic self and Roy Helu Jr. rumbled for three touchdowns as the Washington Redskins rallied for a dramatic 45-41 shootout win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
The 83,147 fans crammed into FedEx Field put the controversy swirling around the team’s name aside on a perfect autumn afternoon and were in full voice singing the team song “Hail to Redskins” loud and proud as Washington posted its first home win of the season.
It was just the second victory of the season for the struggling Redskins (2-4) but in the whacky NFC East they are still in the thick of the chase for a division crown behind the front-running Dallas Cowboys (4-2)- the only team in the division with a winning record.
Griffin, who set the NFL alight last year during a spectacular rookie season, had shown only flashes of the form that earned him rookie of the year honors as he continued his recovery from off-season knee surgery.
But the Washington quarterback was back at his brilliant best on Sunday passing for 298 yards, two touchdowns and engineering a late game-winning, 80-yard scoring drive capped by Helu diving over for a three-yard touchdown with just 45 seconds left to play.
”I had a feeling about this game,“ Griffin told reporters. ”I talked to the guys before the game about having a breakthough.
”Had to win a shootout. That’s what the team talked about if that’s what it takes, that’s what we have to do.
“As an offense you can always get better. There were plays out there we could have executed better but we won the game.”
Griffin also rushed for 84 yards while Alfred Morris had 95 yards on 19 carries and Helu chipped in with 41 yards highlighted by his touchdown runs of 14, three and three yards.
Washington’s defense has been ranked among the league worst and yielded 41 points and 359 yards total offense to the Bears. But they came up big when it mattered most, stopping Chicago on a last-ditch drive while contributing a touchdown to the cause with Brian Orakpo intercepting Jay Cutler in the second quarter and returning the ball 29 yards for the score.
It was an afternoon of edge-of-your-seat entertainment in a seesaw battle that saw the Redskins and Bears trade field goals off their opening possessions and ended with each team scoring two touchdowns in a wild fourth quarter.
The game featured a little bit of everything including an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown by Bears speedster Devin Hester.
It marked the 19th time Hester had returned a kick for a touchdown tying the NFL record set by Deion Sanders.
Bears running back Matt Forte also ran for three touchdowns. But Chicago’s hopes for a win took a major blow when Cutler was knocked out of the game in the second quarter with a groin injury.
Cutler was replaced by Josh McCown, who was making his first game appearance since 2011. He did a solid job in relief tossing for 204 yards and a touchdown but could not keep pace with Griffin or a Washington offense that put up a 499 yards.
“It doesn’t matter to me if I had 1,000 yards,” said Forte, when asked about his three touchdowns. “If we lose, we didn’t do enough.”
Editing by Gene Cherry