Roy Helu scores one of his three touchdowns against Chicago on Sunday. (Alex Brandon/AP)
The Washington Redskins came into their game against the Chicago Bears with a 1-4 record and no margin for error. After a bye two weeks ago and a 31-16 thrashing at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday, things looked pretty bleak for Mike Shanahan's team. Facing the Chicago Bears this Sunday didn't seem like a panacea, but with three touchdowns from backup running back Roy Helu and a triumphant comeback game from Robert Griffin III, the Redskins pulled out a thriller with a 45-41 victory. There were four ties in the game, and neither team led by more than seven points at any time, but it was Washington on top at the end.
Before the game, Griffin spent a little extra time talking to his teammates and trying to inspire them.
“I want you guys to listen to me," he said, per the Washington Post. "We’ve worked hard this whole season. All the adversity we’ve been through the first couple of weeks is only gonna make our breakthrough feel that much better.
“Today we get our breakthrough. You’ve gotta see it. You’ve gotta believe. And then we’re gonna go out there and take it. When we step on this field, we come out here and do what players do: Make plays. All right? Make plays on three….”
Helu grabbed his first score with 13:44 left in the first half on a 14-yard run, tying the game at 10. HIs three-yard scoring dash with 3:10 left in the third quarter put the Redskins up 31-24, and he put in the dagger with another three-yard scoring run with 45 seconds left in the game.
Before today, Helu had scored three rushing touchdowns in his entire career. Alfred Morris, the team's ostensible franchise back, was healthy throughout the game and actually outgained Helu, 95 to 41 yards -- but Helu got all the red-zone love. Mike Shanahan has a long history of driving the fantasy owners of his teams' running backs nuts, and this game certainly continued that trend.
Griffin appeared to have his bearings as a passer this afternoon more than he has most of this season. He completed 18-of-29 passes for 298 yards, two touchdowns and one interception (he also rushed for 84 yards). The pick was Griffin's sixth of the season, already exceeding the five he threw in his rookie campaign, but this effort was enough to pull the game out.
“We had to win a shoot-out and that’s what we did," he said after the game. "That’s what we talked about as a team. Whatever the situation calls for, that’s what we’ve got to do.”
The Bears had their own three-touchdown runner in Matt Forte, who gained 91 yards on 16 carries, but Marc Trestman's offense might be in some trouble. Quarterback Jay Cutler left the game in the second quarter after he was sacked by 333-pound defensive lineman Chris Baker. Cutler suffered a groin injury, and two Bears sources told NFL.com's Mike Silver that the injury "could be bad."
Cutler was replace by Josh McCown, the career backup who completed 14-of-20 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown against Washington's predictably porous pass defense. Cutler completed just 3-of-8 passes, including an interception, before he left the game.
The Redskins made plays, just as RGIII implored -- and they still have life in the NFC East as a result.