LANDOVER, Md. - Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan's once and present quarterbacks met Sunday, and the one who finished upright prevailed in one of the wildest games of the year. Roy Helu's third touchdown run of the day, a three-yard burst with 45 seconds left, lifted Washington a 45-41 victory over visiting Chicago after Bears backup Josh McCown engineered a rally that had given the visitors the lead.
McCown, who hadn't played since the 2011 finale, took over when Jay Cutler was sidelined with a groin injury with 5:52 left in the second quarter and the Redskins leading 17-10. McCown's 7-yard scoring toss to tight end Martellus Bennett with 3:57 remaining put the Bears ahead 38-34 before Robert Griffin III (18 of 29, 298 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, 84 yards on 11 carries), led the Redskins on the winning 12-play, 80-yard drive. That score came against a Bears' defense shorthanded because of injuries to Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder) and cornerback Charles Tillman (knee).
Washington stayed alive in the NFC East at 2-4. Chicago's Devin Hester tied the NFL record with his 19th career return touchdown and running back Matt Forte scored three touchdowns, including a 50-yard gallop in the third quarter.
Griffin's 45-yard touchdown pass to reserve receiver Aldrick Robinson with 10:55 remaining put Washington on top 38-31 before Robbie Gould's 49-yard field goal 2:16 later brought Chicago closer.
On the game's second play, Griffin, drafted second overall by Shanahan in 2012, raced around right end for 23 yards before he found rookie tight end Jordan Reed for 38, but Washington still had to settle for Kai Forbath's 38-yard field goal.
After an exchange of punts greatly benefited the Bears, Gould's 47-yard field goal tied the score. Tillman then picked Griffin off and returned the ball to the Washington 10. Forte scored for a 10-3 Chicago lead two plays later.
The Redskins responded with a 13-play, 80-yard touchdown drive with Morris and Griffin doing most of the damage with their legs before backup running back Helu scored from 14 yards out 1:16 into the second quarter. On Chicago's next play, when receiver Alshon Jeffery couldn't snatch Cutler's pass with safety Reed Doughty draped over him, the ball bounced into the hands of outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, who ran 29 yards for his first career touchdown. With 14 points in just 17 seconds, Washington led 17-10.
When the Bears got the ball back, Redskins reserve defensive end Chris Baker sacked Cutler, who lay on the ground for a while before being helped to the training room.
Chicago scored next on Hester's 81-yard punt return. Washington took a 24-17 lead into the locker room when Reed finished an 11-play, 74-yard march with a nifty 3-yard catch in the right back corner of the end zone with 27 seconds left in the half.
Notes: Orakpo's touchdown was the fourth for Washington's defense, matching its total of last season. ... Reed's 134 receiving yards were a Redskins rookie tight end record. ... Fred Davis, who began the last two seasons as Washington's starting tight end, was inactive despite being listed as probable. So was rookie Bacarri Rambo, who started the first two games at safety but didn't play last week either. ... Rookie middle linebacker Jonathan Bostic made his first career start for Chicago in place of D.J. Williams, who was placed on injured reserve last week with a torn pec. Briggs, who was having a big game, departed with a shoulder injury during the third quarter.