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LANDOVER, Md. – Robert Griffin III and Charles Tillman went to the same high school — Copperas Cove, deep in the heart of Texas — so there was some friendly one-upmanship when the two faced each other Sunday for the first time in the NFL.
"He did get me with an interception," Griffin said with a smile, "but I got him back with a touchdown."
It was that type of game between the Washington Redskins and Chicago Bears. Back and forth, seesaw, last team to score wins.
Roy Helu's 3-yard touchdown run with 45 seconds remaining gave the Redskins the 45-41 victory. The Bears stayed in it despite losing Jay Cutler to a groin injury in the first half and two players from an already-depleted defense in the second half.
Neither of these teams will strike fear into the league's elite anytime soon, but there were some fun individual highlights. Chicago's Devin Hester tied an NFL record with his 19th return touchdown, and Washington rookie Jordan Reed had a breakout performance with 134 yards and a touchdown.
The Redskins are 2-4, and both victories have come against backup QBs: Matt Flynn — who has since been released by the Oakland Raiders — and Josh McCown, who took over for Cutler.
"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."
Here are five reasons why the Redskins should bask while they can ahead of next week's visit to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, and why the Bears (4-3) have fallen out of first place in the NFC North after a 3-0 start:
TWO BACKS AND ONE RG3: The Redskins rushed for 209 yards, spreading the joy among Griffin (season-high 84), bruiser Alfred Morris (95) and the change-of-pace moves of Helu (41, three touchdowns). 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 the 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."
CUTLER GOES DOWN: Cutler threw a pick-6 during a 3-for-8 afternoon that ended early in the second quarter on a sack by 333-pound nose tackle Chris Baker. Cutler will have an MRI exam Monday, and coach Marc Trestman wasn't sure how serious the injury might be. McCown played for the first time since the 2011 season and was more effective, going 14 for 20 for 204 yards with one TD pass.
"Actually, when you knock a starter out in this league, you expect to dominate the backup, not vice versa — knock the starter out and the backup comes in and lights you up," Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall said.
TIRED AND IN TATTERS: Chicago's defense was in bad shape by the time RG3 was leading Washington on an 80-yard drive for the go-ahead touchdown. Linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder) and Tillman (knee) left 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 — and the Bears entered Sunday without starting middle linebacker D.J. Williams and two defensive tackles because of season-ending injuries. Trestman said his "D'' was exhausted because it couldn't get off the field.
GET THE BALL TO JORDAN: The Redskins passing attack is still feeling its way, but one thing has become clear: Third-round draft pick Reed is a keeper. He caught all nine passes thrown his way. "When you look at it coaches' talk-wise, he's wired to separate," Griffin said. "He's got good hands. And like I like to say, he's got a wide catch radius, so he can catch about anything you throw at him." Reed has made such an impact that Fred Davis, who was expected to be the starter after he was re-signed in the offseason, was inactive Sunday.
SPECIAL MOMENTS: You could see this one coming: Hester returned a punt 81 yards, equaling Deion Sanders' mark for most return touchdowns. He did it against a Redskins team that allowed a special teams touchdown for the third consecutive game. Hester has 13 return TDs on punts, five on kickoffs and one on a missed field goal. Two other Bears close calls on special teams proved to be significant. Robbie Gould missed a field goal for the first time this season, although it was impossible to tell on the replay whether the 34-yard attempt was actually wide right. Chicago also recovered an onside kick in the fourth quarter, but the play was negated by an offsides call that was so close some Bears asked reporters whether it was correct. "The officials ... made a call," Gould said, "and that's the call you go with."
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