In a back-and-forth slugfest in the nation's capital, the Chicago Bears came close but fell short to the Washington Redskins by a score of 45-41 on Sunday afternoon. Roy Helu Jr scored on a touchdown run with only 45 seconds remaining in the game to send the Bears into their bye week on a down note.
Quarterback Jay Cutler was forced to leave the game in the second quarter with a groin injury, and several key contributors on the defensive side of the ball during the game, but Josh McCown came in and performed admirably, throwing for 186 yards and a touchdown in the losing effort.
On the Bears’ first defensive series, they looked a little bit pensive against the aggressive Redskins’ attack. Griffin was doing an excellent job of keeping them off balance with his mix of running from the pocket and standing in and delivering the ball, but fortunately for Chicago, they were able to hold Washington to just an early field goal.
After an unsuccessful drive by the Bears, their defense was given a wonderful gift when Adam Podlesh and Zack Bowman combined to pin the Redskins at the one-half yard line. Julius Peppers nearly picked up a safety for Chicago with a solid tackle on the edge, and eventually Washington had to punt to give the Bears good field position. Chicago couldn’t capitalize however, and they had to settle for a field goal by Robbie Gould to tie the game at 3-3.
The Bears got another big break on the Redskins’ series, as Griffin threw a ball into double coverage that was intercepted by Charles Tillman. With a short field to work with , the Bears grabbed the lead as Forte swung out wide to the strong side of the formation and hurdled a Washington defender to reach the end zone and give Chicago the 10-3 lead.
The defense gave that lead right back though, as Griffin and Helu proceeded to tear the defense to shreds. Griffin had an outstanding throw into the flat to get a first down, and then Helu ran it into the end zone for a 14 yard touchdown scamper, tying the game at 10-10. Just 12 seconds later, Alshon Jeffery bobbled a jump ball from Cutler, and Brian Orakpo intercepted it, returning it 29 yards for the touchdown to give Washington a 17-10 lead.
On the next Chicago series, disaster struck. Cutler dropped back for a pass, and when he was sacked, he ended up laying on the ground in obvious pain. He limped back to the locker room, and according to reports he had to be carried up the tunnel after suffering a groin injury. After some initial confusion as to whether or not he would return, the team confirmed that he was out for the remainder of the game, but offered little other information as to his condition.
The madness didn’t stop there either. With about six minutes left in the half, Devin Hester fielded a punt deep in Washington territory, did a nice field reversal, and took advantage of some tremendous blocking to bring the ball all the way home to tie the game for the Bears at 17-17. The play was Hester’s 19th career return touchdown, which ties him for the NFL record with Deion Sanders.
The Redskins weren’t content to just let the half expire after giving up the big play. On a long 11 play, 74 yard drive, the Skins pushed the ball up the field, eventually scoring on a three yard touchdown pass to Jordan Reed that gave Washington back the lead at 24-17.
After a stunning missed field goal by Gould, the Bears ran a beautiful drive that started with a great screen pass to Jeffery that moved the Bears to midfield. Just two plays later, Forte burst through a gaping hole in the line and took advantage of some quality blocking by Brandon Marshall to run in a 50 yard touchdown to tie the game at 24-24.
Just three minutes later, the Redskins struck again, as Helu ran in his second touchdown of the game with about three minutes remaining in the third quarter to give the Redskins back the lead at 31-24. The drive was also marked by Lance Briggs leaving the field with an apparent shoulder injury and heading to the Bears' locker room.
Once again though, the Bears’ offense was able to respond, driving 89 yards and scoring another touchdown when Forte used a great block from Kyle Long to run in a six yard score.
Once again though, it was an error in the Bears’ defensive scheme that ended up costing the team. Griffin had a wide open receiver in the flat, and instead of throwing there, he threw a home run ball that Aldrick Robinson came down with after Chris Conte fell down in coverage. The miscue, coupled with Tillman giving up on the play, was enough to give the Redskins a 38-31 lead with 11 minutes remaining in the game.
The Bears drove back down the field, but were stopped on third down in Washington territory, and had to settle for a 49 yard field goal by Gould to bring the margin to within a 38-34 margin. The Bears then tried a surprise onside kick, and it appeared that they recovered the ball, but the play was brought back on a highly questionable offsides call. The officials didn't indicate who on the Bears had crossed the plane before the ball was kicked, but at any rate, the Bears were forced to kick the ball off again after coming so painfully close to getting possession back.
The Bears also suffered another loss on defense before the drive started, with Tillman remaining on the sideline to give way to Bowman. Fortunately for the Bears, they were able to get a big stop on third down to force a Washington punt, and gave themselves a chance with plenty of clock to move back down the field.
That is exactly what the Bears did on two straight plays on the ensuing drive. McCown first found Marshall over the middle for a huge gain across the midfield mark, and then Jeffery caught a pass and broke up a couple of tackles to get the ball within the 10-yard line. After Brandon Merriweather picked up his second personal foul penalty of the game to give the Bears a fresh set of downs, McCown found Bennett in the end zone to give the Bears back the 41-38 lead late in the fourth quarter.
The Redskins got the ball back after the play and showed that they weren't ready to go down without a fight. Thanks to a couple of big conversions, including a third down conversion from Griffin to Pierre Garcon, the Redskins were set up pretty with two minutes left in the game in Bears territory. After another clutch third down conversion to Reed, Helu ran the ball in from in close for his third touchdown of the game, giving them a 45-41 lead with only 45 seconds remaining in the game.
The Bears moved the ball upfield on a bizarre kickoff sequence that saw Hester throw across the formation to Joe Anderson, but were ultimately unsuccessful in coming back as McCown was sacked with 11 seconds remaining, and the clock ran out on the Bears' chances.
The team will now head into the bye week with a 4-3 record and a Monday Night Football matchup with the Green Bay Packers looming in the first weekend in November. In the meantime, Trestman and company will have an interesting task on their hands as they try to move forward with a slew of injuries now facing their team.