LANDOVER, Md. -- Washington Redskins running back Roy Helu's third touchdown run of the day, a 3-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 to go in the second quarter and the Redskins leading 17-10. McCown's 7-yard scoring toss to tight end Martellus Bennett with 3:57 left put the Bears ahead 38-34.
NFL Network reported immediately after the game, citing two unnamed sources, that Cutler's groin injury "could be bad." Further examination is scheduled for Monday to determine the extent of the damage.
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).
"We had to win a shootout and we did," said Griffin, who delivered his best performance since returning last month from January knee surgery. "I felt like we were in sync for the first time (on offense). We've been though a lot of adversity. We needed that breakthrough. We still got a hole to get out of. The momentum we have from this win against a quality team can definitely help us."
Washington, which travels to unbeaten Denver next week, stayed with the pack at 2-4 in the NFC East. Dallas leads the division at 4-3.
"We gotta tighten up," said Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall. "When you knock a starter out, you expect to dominate the backup, not vice-versa."
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 that made it 24-24, but the Bears slipped to 4-3, behind Green Bay and Detroit (4-3, but with a win over Chicago) in the NFC North.
What the Bears said
"When your starting quarterback goes down and you are used to him playing, it kind of does something mentally to you." - Forte on losing Cutler during the second quarter. Cutler will have an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of his groin injury.
"We need to be gap-sound on him. There were times when we may have not gotten over or fitted up wrong, but when we fitted correctly, we were stopping him." - Bostic on trying to tackle 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III.
What the Redskins said
"As long as he keeps making plays, I'll continue to have more faith in him. He can be a weapon." -- Griffin III on rookie TE Jordan Reed.
"I think it all depends on who's watching. No matter what I do, I feel like I'm going to be in the wrong. They trying to be safe and the only way to be safe is to do what they're doing, but at the same time this is tackle football. The job of a safety is to instill fear." -- SS Brandon Meriweather, who was penalized twice for illegal hits and could be facing a suspension after a similar play in Week 2 at Green Bay.
What we learned about the Bears
1. Backup quarterback Josh McCown can play a little bit if starter Jay Cutler is sidelined a while with the groin injury he suffered today. McCown was 14-of-20 for 204 yards and a touchdown in his first action since 2011. McCown, pressed about what Cutler might do better, said wryly "Have you seen him throw?"
2. Chicago's defense takes a big step back when outside linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder) and cornerback Charles Tillman (knee) aren't on the field, as was the case during the fourth quarter. Tillman was out of position on a 45-yard touchdown pass and the Redskins were able to move the ball with ease at times in their zone-blocking scheme that churned through linebackers. Without their veteran presence, however, Chicago's defense has few dependable playmakers.
About the Redskins:
1. Tight end Jordan Reed is pretty darn good. The rookie has 26 catches for 298 yards and two touchdowns despite missing a game. No wonder Fred Davis, who opened the year as the starter, was inactive. Reed caught all nine passes thrown his way, and quarterback Robert Griffin II said his wide catch radius -- and the results after the catch -- make him a very inviting target.
2. Washington's defensive renaissance of the previous two games is far from complete. After holding the Bears' offense to 10 points and 46 yards before halftime, the Redskins were shredded for 24 points and 313 yards during the second half. Shanahan said last week's defensive performance in Dallas was the best by far for the Redskins. Sunday against Chicago might not have been the worst of the year for Washington, but it's surely in the running.