Bears 20, Browns 7
Grossman threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to tight end Desmond Clark—the first TD by Chicago’s first-team offense in the preseason—to lead the Bears to a 20-7 exhibition win over the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night.
Rookie Devin Hester’s 54-yard punt return set up Grossman’s short scoring toss early in the first quarter as the Bears (2-2) tuned up for their Sept. 10 season opener at Green Bay with a solid all-around effort.
“It makes it a lot easier when you get a punt return like that and start in your own red zone,” Grossman said. “It was nice that we got a touchdown and moved the ball a little bit. As an offense, we ran the ball well and caught the ball for the most part.”
Grossman played two series and finished 5-of-8 for 73 yards, leading the Bears to the TD and Robbie Gould’s 27-yard field goal.
The 25-year-old Grossman was booed at home by Chicago fans last week during a loss to Arizona, but he looked better in limited playing time as coach Lovie Smith, not wanting to risk injuries, rested his starters most of the game.
“Rex threw the ball well and it was good for our offense to finish up this way,” Smith said.
Kyle Orton, who led the Bears to 10 wins and an NFC playoff berth last season but is now behind Grossman and Brian Griese, led an 80-yard scoring drive that ended with P.J. Pope’s 2-yard TD run with 5:41 left that made it 20-7.
While the Bears made progress, the Browns’ were shaky—everywhere.
“The best thing about this game is that it’s over,” said coach Romeo Crennel, who was frustrated with his team’s effort. “We played like we really didn’t want to play and it showed up on the field.
“Everybody played bad.”
Quarterback Charlie Frye went 1-of-4 for 8 yards, and Cleveland’s first unit picked up only 7 total yards in the six plays he was under center. Frye did play behind a healthier offensive line as right tackle Ryan Tucker returned from knee surgery for his first preseason action.
Derek Anderson, battling Ken Dorsey to be Frye’s backup, led the Browns (2-2) to their only score late in the first half. His 5-yard TD pass to Frisman Jackson with 4 seconds remaining in the second quarter pulled Cleveland to 10-7.
Anderson went 11-of-22 for 96 yards with one TD and one interception, and Dorsey was 2-of-7 for 18 yards.
“I don’t think there’s a quarterback we have who played very good,” said Crennel, who added that he’s still thinking about bringing in another QB to sit behind Frye.
Interestingly, Crennel hardly played running back Lee Suggs and didn’t dress William Green. They are competing with Jason Wright to back up starter Reuben Droughns, but it appears one or both of them may not make Cleveland’s final 53-man roster.
Browns tight end Kellen Winslow had one catch for 7 yards, and wide receiver Braylon Edwards was in for just five plays. The Browns are being cautious with Edwards, whose speedy recovery from knee surgery has renewed hopes in Cleveland.
Rookie linebacker Kamerion Wimbley was one of the few bright spots for Cleveland. The first-round pick nearly sacked Griese on consecutive plays in the first quarter.
Chicago’s starting offense had managed two field goals in the club’s first three exhibitions. Smith was hoping Grossman and the unit could do something positive heading into the season opener against Green Bay, and Hester helped out right away.
The second-round pick from Miami, who returned six kicks for TDs with the Hurricanes, ran Cleveland’s first punt back to the 20.
“He’s definitely turning into a weapon,” Smith said. “He’s outstanding back there.”
Three plays after Hester’s big play, Grossman hit a wide-open Clark to make it 7-0.
Following a three-and-out by Frye and the Browns’ starting offense, Grossman moved the Bears 67 yards in 11 plays to set up Gould’s 27-yarder that put Chicago ahead 10-0.
Gould added a 28-yard kick late in the third to make it 13-7.
Frye banged his hand on a helmet, but said he was fine. … Bears RB Cedric Benson (shoulder), starting DE Alex Brown (shoulder) and WR Bernard Berrian (right knee) sat out with injuries. … The Browns rested CBs Gary Baxter (chest muscle), Daylon McCutcheon (knee) and several others, including S Brian Russell, RB William Green, CB Leigh Bodden, who had unspecified injuries. … WR Mark Bradley (hip), TE Gabe Reid (hip), FB J.D. Runnells and P Joel Stelly (unknown) got hurt for the Bears.