Browns 20, Bears 10
CLEVELAND (AP)—On his way out of Browns Stadium, quarterback Trent Dilfer seemed a little embarrassed as he accepted a few compliments for playing a good game.
“Yeah, thanks,” Dilfer said with a smile and more than a hint of sarcasm. “Two nice throws.”
Two was all Cleveland needed.
Dilfer connected with wide receiver Antonio Bryant for two touchdowns in a 38-second span late in the fourth quarter as the Cleveland Browns rallied to a 20-10 victory over the sputtering Chicago Bears.
For nearly 57 minutes, the Browns (2-2), who were without rookie wide receiver Braylon Edwards, appeared headed toward another tough loss at home. But Dilfer, who threw two interceptions in the first half and spent most of the second preaching patience in the huddle, came through in the clutch.
“It was ugly out there,” Dilfer said. “I’ll be the first to admit it. Two plays is all we made the whole day.”
With the Browns trailing 10-6, Dilfer, making his 100th career start, hit Bryant for a 33-yard TD with 3:02 left. The scoring strike was also the 33-year-old Dilfer’s 100th career TD pass.
“It took me longer to get there than some guys,” he said.
No. 101 didn’t take long at all.
After Bears rookie quarterback Kyle Orton’s fumble was recovered by Chris Crocker, Dilfer found Bryant on a similar route in the left corner, a 28-yarder that put the Browns up by 10 with 2:24 remaining.
For Bryant, the two scoring catches helped erase some frustration from a loss in Indianapolis two weeks ago, when he couldn’t haul in a possible TD pass from Dilfer in the fourth quarter.
“I was antsy to do something,” Bryant said. “I wanted to make a play.”
For Browns fans, the Dilfer-to-Bryant hookups salvaged a dreary and dull afternoon. Instead of witnessing another loss because of a last-second field goal, controversial call or idiotic play like Dwayne Rudd’s mindless helmet toss in 2002, the dedicated fans went away with smiles.
Cleveland is just 15-35 at home since 1999.
“It’s awesome,” Browns offensive tackle Ryan Tucker said. “It’s good for the fans and players. When you win at home, everything is better. Your kids behave better, you love your wife more and even the food tastes better.”
The Bears (1-3) were undone by costly mistakes and an offense that couldn’t get much going behind Orton, who went 16-for-26 for 117 yards.
Chicago running back Thomas Jones rushed for 137 yards on 24 carries, but left midway through the fourth quarter with an injured right knee.
There was frustration oozing from every corner of the Bears’ locker room.
“We have to stop thinking we’re a good defense and start stepping up and do it,” linebacker Brian Urlacher said. “Two plays killed us. No excuses.”
Edwards remained hospitalized after surgery on Saturday to treat an infection in his right arm. The No. 3 overall draft pick practiced all week, but his arm became swollen following the club’s walkthrough and he was admitted to the Cleveland Clinic.
Orton’s 8-yard TD pass to Marc Edwards gave the Bears a 10-6 lead in the third quarter.
But Cedric Benson fumbled on the Bears’ next possession and they went three-and-out soon after. Still, Chicago led by four when Adrian Peterson, who replaced Jones, ran for 19 yards on 3rd-and-19 for a first down with 7:13 left.
Chicago’s drive stalled, and a punt appeared to pin the Browns back at the 17. But a penalty forced the Bears to kick again, and punter Brad Maynard failed to get off another good one as the Browns took over at the 46—a 29-yard swing.
Dilfer took advantage of the field position, hitting tight end Aaron Shea for 11 yards before his first TD pass to Bryant.
“We couldn’t put it away,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “We’ve got to find a way to win.”
Cleveland’s Phil Dawson kicked field goals of 19 and 44 yards.
Following the game, Jones said his knee felt better. He described the injury as “a bone bruise or something.” … Dilfer planned to present the game ball to Casey Coleman, a longtime Browns radio announcer hospitalized following pancreas surgery. … Bears G Ruben Brown strained his left pectoral muscle in the first half and didn’t return. … Bears OT John Tait left the stadium in a walking boot with a sprained ankle. … Shea had six catches for 65 yards in his season debut. … The Browns have forced a turnover in a league-high 17 straight games.