CHICAGO -- The skills that led the Redskins to select Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick in the NFL draft, especially his deft ballhandling and mobility, were clearly on display Saturday night, but it was just as clear that it's going to take considerably more to revive a Washington franchise which has had only two winning seasons in the last dozen years.
It took a 57-yard field goal from Robbie Gould with 31 seconds remaining for the Bears to beat the Redskins 33-31, but it was close only because of another Washington rookie, fourth-round pick Kirk Cousins, who threw three fourth-quarter touchdown passes.
Griffin gave a thumbs-up to the deep reserves who played the second half after both he and coach Mike Shanahan talked about how difficult it was for him to get into rhythm against Chicago's tough defense. Griffin was sacked three times in the first quarter while throwing only two passes, and the Redskins produced just a field goal and five first downs in his six offensive possessions.
"We had minor mistakes throughout the first half that got us out of rhythm," Griffin said. "It was one guy here or there; it was different things."
Fortunately for Washington, Griffin's legs prevented even more damage, although he acknowledged an important lesson he still is to learn: when to slide and when to get out of bounds rather than try for a couple extra yards on a scramble.
The offensive line wasn't the Redskins' only problem. While regulars were in the game, Washington's pass rush and tackling also were inadequate. The Bears, who had been embarrassed 31-3 by Denver in their first exhibition game, had 262 yards by halftime and led 30-10 after the third quarter.
Shanahan had mostly praise for Griffin, saying, "I just like the way he handled himself. We have to protect better, obviously. ... We've got to be more cohesive than we were."
Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler, drafted by Shanahan when Shanahan was the Denver coach, completed 7 of 13 passes for 122 yards, including a 41-yard bomb to Brandon Marshall, his former Bronco teammate, on the Bears' first play. Backup running back Michael Bush, showing off some nifty moves, ran for the game's first two touchdowns.
Griffin, who played less than one quarter in his preseason debut a week earlier -- when he completed 4 of 6 passes for 70 yards and the game's only touchdown -- played the entire first half this time. He completed 5 of 8 passes, but for only 49 yards, lost a fumble for the second game in a row and was sacked three times.
"I think we did a lot better (than last game)," said Chicago middle linebacker Nick Roach, playing for the injured Brian Urlacher (knee). "We got a lot of pressure on them, which was the goal."
That all three sacks came in the first quarter only underlined a rocky start for Griffin.
After two runs by sixth-round rookie Alfred Morris gained 27 yards on the first two plays, Griffin dropped back for his first pass. He locked in on a receiver while scrambling and eventually threw the ball away while being chased out of bounds -- but not before the Redskins were penalized for holding.
This led to the first of several gaffes by the crew of replacement officials led by referee Jim Wintenberg. He marched off 17 yards for the 10-yard penalty.
As it turned out, Griffin and the Redskins gained only 74 more yards on 24 plays during the rest of the first half.
Griffin, however, did a nice job on the second series, throwing a 15-yard completion to Santana Moss on a third-and-3 bootleg. But on the third series, Griffin showed both the good and bad, scrambling to escape a safety blitz and then, carrying the ball loosely, getting it stripped and recovered by Chicago.
"I should be more secure with the ball in that situation," Griffin said.
The only Washington points with Griffin in the game came on a field goal following a 34-yard pass interference penalty called against Charles Tillman, who may have been guilty of something but probably not interference since he and receiver Pierre Garcon both were several yards out of bounds at the point of the foul.
Later on that drive, Griffin hit a nifty 11-yard throw to Leonard Hankerson off a rollout and scrambled 14 yards around end after showing patience in the pocket on 3rd-and-5.
Washington's only touchdown before the fourth-quarter rally came on a 91-yard punt return by Brandon Banks. The Bears matched that when Lorenzo Booker returned the second half kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown.
Two Redskins defensive starters -- linebacker Brian Orakpo (shoulder) and safety Brandon Meriweather (knee) -- left the game with injuries during the first half, and Shanahan said he would not know the extent of the injuries until further examination. Orakpo's injury reportedly was a sprain.
Chicago rookie safety Brandon Hardin left on a cart as a precaution with a neck injury that was not believed to be serious.
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