LANDOVER, Md. — Still far from being a good team, the Washington Redskins are at least a successful team for a change.
The Redskins gave up a special teams touchdown to Devin Hester — who didn’t see that coming? — and had their defense shredded by a backup quarterback playing his first regular season game in 21 months.
They took advantage of an injury-depleted Chicago Bears defense and scored their most points since 2005, needing every morsel of offense from Robert Griffin III and Co., right down to Roy Helu’s game-deciding 3-yard touchdown with 45 seconds remaining.
They beat the Bears 45-41 Sunday, raising their record to 2-4 while not doing much to alleviate the doubts surrounding the reigning NFC East champions.
“When we go watch the film,” Griffin said, “we won’t watch it with smiles on our face. … But I think we made enough plays today to win the game, and that’s all matters.”
Griffin completed 18 of 29 passes for 298 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, and he also ran 11 times for a season-high 84 yards. Helu rushed for three scores, and third-round rookie tight end Jordan Reed had a breakout performance with 134 yards and a touchdown, catching all nine passes thrown his way.
“Every game is big, but we sure needed it after being 1-4,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “You don’t want to dig yourself a bigger hole.”
The Redskins’ two victories have come against backup QBs — Matt Flynn, who has since been released by the Oakland Raiders — and now Josh McCown, who entered Sunday’s game in the second quarter after Jay Cutler left with a groin injury.
McCown was seeing his first action since the 2011 season, but the Bears improved with him in the game. Chicago had 46 yards of total offense in the first half and 313 in the second. He completed 14 of 20 passes for 204 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett that gave his team a 41-38 lead with 3:57 to play.
“I didn’t ask him what he liked, what he didn’t like,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “I just called the plays according to the plan we had put together. I thought he functioned very well in the offense.”
Matt Forte rushed for three touchdowns, Alshon Jeffery had 105 yards receiving, and Hester tied Deion Sanders’ NFL record for return touchdowns with an 81-yard punt runback, but the Bears (4-3) couldn’t keep up because the defense was running out of playmakers.
Having already lost middle linebacker D.J. Williams and two defensive tackles to season-ending injuries, Chicago had to make do without linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder) and Charles Tillman (knee) down the stretch after both were hurt in the second half.
“They’ve been here a long time, made a lot of plays. Definitely wish we could have had them out there,” linebacker Jonathan Bostic said.
Cutler was injured when he was brought down 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. He will have an MRI on Monday. Trestman didn’t have an update on Briggs or Tillman.
McCown looked understandably rusty in his first few plays, but Hester was there to restore some Bears momentum with his punt return. It was his 19th career return touchdown, as well as the third special teams touchdown allowed by the Redskins in three games.
The Redskins started their final possession with 3:57 to play and trailing by three. Milking the clock, they converted three third downs to set up Helu’s touchdown run. Griffin said the offense played most of the game in sync for the first time this season, in part because he’s cleared a psychological hurdle in his return from offseason knee surgery.
“I think mental part of it that I did get over was not thinking out on the field, just reacting,” Griffin said. “And I don’t think that was anything to do with my knee, the knee brace or anything else, I just think that was for me mentally playing the game irrelevant of my injury.”
Griffin also passed an unwelcome milestone. After throwing only five interceptions last season when he was the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year, he threw his sixth of 2013 on Sunday when Tillman, who went to the same Texas high school as Griffin, got a pick in the first half.
Griffin evened the score, however, in the fourth quarter with a 45-yard heave to Aldrick Robinson, who made the catch while Tillman and safety Chris Conte were tumbling to the turf.
“He did get me with an interception,” Griffin said with a smile, “but I got him back with a touchdown.”
It was that kind of game.
Notes: Hester has 13 return TDs on punt, five on kickoffs and one on a missed field goal. … Redskins S Reed Doughty left the game with a concussion.