CHICAGO — Whatever positive vibes the Washington Redskins brought with them into their second preseason game vanished Saturday night during a nightmarish first quarter against the Chicago Bears.
Two defensive starters were injured. The franchise quarterback was sacked three times and fumbled once. Passes were dropped and defenders were beaten.
Chicago won the game, 33-31, on a 57-yard field goal by Robbie Gould with 31 seconds left. But that score did not reflect how the Redskins’ first string offense and defense were outplayed. It had the familiar feel of a last-place team still grappling with so many shortcomings.
“It is preseason, but it does leave a sour taste in your mouth,” defensive end Adam Carriker said. “I don’t know whether it’s worrisome. We just need to get back to work.”
Injuries were the greatest blow. Washington lost safety Brandon Meriweather and outside linebacker Brian Orakpo in the process of falling behind, 17-0, against Chicago’s starters. Meriweather’s left knee injury is believed to be more serious than Orakpo’s left shoulder injury. Both players are scheduled MRIs Sunday.
Meriweather was assisted off the field by trainers after going down near the line of scrimmage on Michael Bush’s 8-yard touchdown run near the end of the first quarter. Orakpo was hurt when Bears receiver Devin Hester ran through his arm tackle after a reception. Orakpo had surgery to repair a torn left pectoral muscle in the offseason
The Redskins’ first-string offense, meanwhile, provide no relief. Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III faced much more pressure than he did in his auspicious preseason debut last week against Buffalo.
He completed 5 of 8 passes for 49 yards, good for a rating of 79.7. He was sacked three times in the first quarter, though, and lost a fumble on one of them.
“I think he’s going to get better and better,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “We had three sacks, and I think two of them were screens. He’ll learn to throw that one just at the guy’s feet. He can look to see if he can make a play, but I think that will come more natural to him in time, where you just kind of throw it away.”
Griffin appeared jittery in the face of the pass rush at times, though Shanahan praised Griffin’s composure after the game.
On the second sack, defensive end Israel Idonije beat tight end Fred Davis around the edge and forced Griffin to fumble deep in Washington’s territory. Griffin left the ball exposed as he tried to extend the play, and Idonije hit him from behind to force it loose.
Chicago recovered at the Redskins’ 8-yard line, and Bush ran it in two plays later.
Griffin “tried to make a play, and the guy right behind him hit him,” Shanahan said. “He had somebody open in the flat. Those are the types of experiences that he’ll get better at in time. We’ve got to protect, obviously, better against an excellent defense.”
Griffin’s finest play was a 14-yard run to convert third-and-5 in the second quarter. He was decisive in the pocket. He recognized that his three receivers to the left were not open, and he saw that he had the right edge. He tucked it and raced around the corner to extend the drive.
Griffin and the first-string offense played the entire first half; a total of 26 plays.
Rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins took over in the third quarter and helped dress up the final score. He was 18-of-23 passing for 264 yards and three touchdowns to three different receivers. His passer rating was 154.1.
The Bears’ first-string offense opened the game with a six-play, 82-yard touchdown drive. The first play was a 41-yard completion from Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall. The Redskins frequently used cornerback DeAngelo Hall as a single-high safety on the drive, with little success. Michael Bush scored the Bears’ first touchdown on a 1-yard run.
Brandon Banks fortified his push to make the final roster by returning a punt 91 yards for a touchdown. Linebacker Rob Jackson and receiver Terrence Austin sprung Banks with critical blocks immediately after he fielded the ball, and Banks outran punter Adam Podlesh to the sideline.
“That’s what I do best, I think, but I still got to work on wide receiver right now,” said Banks, who did not play receiver in the game.
Rookie running back Alfred Morris started and rushed 10 times for 34 yards. He opened the game with a 21-yard run. However, he released too early on his pass route and failed to pick up the blitz on the sack of Griffin and forced fumble, he said.
Second-year receiver Aldrick Robinson flashed in the second half. He scored a 49-yard touchdown by catching a hook pattern and then outrunning two defensive backs to the end zone. He finished with six catches for 104 yards and a touchdown.
Tight end Niles Paul Cousins’ first touchdown pass, a 5-yard lob on a quarterback keeper to the left sideline. Dezmon Briscoe caught the third, a 20-yard play on a post pattern.
Neil Rackers made a 28-yard field goal, the Redskins first attempt of the preseason. He later missed from 54 yards, though, failing to capitalize on a major opportunity in his competition with Graham Gano.
Notes: Inside inebacker London Fletcher did not play because he was not feeling well, Shanahan said. Defensive end Kedric Golston (elbow) did not play.
• Rich Campbell can be reached at email@example.com.
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