The Cleveland Browns defeated the Chicago Bears by a final score of 18-16 in the preseason finale. The Browns finished the preseason with a record of 3-1 and will now look forward to facing the Miami Dolphins in Week 1 of the regular season.
With the first-teamers getting the game off and Jason Campbell having flu-like symptoms, Brian Hoyer got the start and played the entire game. The Browns got the ball to start the game, and even though Hoyer underthrew wide receiver Josh Gordon on a long pass, the pair still connected on a 45-yard pass play. Two plays later, there was a miscommunication between the two and Hoyer was intercepted by Bears cornerback Demontre Hurst.
Chicago advanced the ball far enough to set up a 52-yard field goal for Robbie Gould, which he drilled, giving them an early 3-0 lead. The Browns got into field goal position on their next drive, but they sent punter Spencer Lanning in to try a 41-yard attempt. Lanning missed horribly, and it was announced that Shayne Graham did not attempt the kick due to a tight back.
The Bears closed out the first drive with quarterback Jordan Palmer having a good drive. That carried over into the beginning of the second quarter, as Palmer completed the drive with a 4-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Joe Anderson with cornerback Abdul Kanneh in coverage. That gave the Bears a 10-0 lead. Lanning did add a last-second field goal for the Browns to make it 10-3 heading into the half.
The Bears kicked a field goal to open up the third quarter, giving them a 13-3 lead. The offense sputtered again, but after a tipped pass thrown by the Bears' Trent Edwards, linebacker James-Michael Johnson snagged the interception and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown, closing the gap to 13-9 (they tried and did not convert a two-point attempt).
In the fourth quarter, Hoyer threw another interception when he tried to air one out for wide receiver David Nelson on third down. The Bears responded with a field goal, taking a 16-9 lead. It was a bit of a rough day for Nelson, who had a drop, slipped twice, and just didn't look up-to-game-speed.
After the field goal, Hoyer led a drive by spreading the ball around to several receivers. It was easily the best and most enjoyable offensive series of the game for Cleveland and was finished off with a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dan Gronkowski. The Browns went for two again, but the fade attempt to wide receiver Josh Cooper was batted away, making it 16-15 Bears.
The defense then forced a fumble after that to get the ball right back, leading to a 40-yard attempt for Lanning with just over three minutes left in the game. Lanning connected, giving the Browns their first lead of the game at 18-16. The Bears tried to put together one last drive and got in range for a 57-yard field goal with about a minute to go. Gould's kick sailed wide to the right, though, sealing the deal for the Browns.
Statistically, Hoyer finished the game completing 24-of-35 passes for 307 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions. It really was an outstanding game for Hoyer; his two interceptions weren't poor decisions by any means. Several players stood out in their bid to make the final roster, while others struggled. We'll have our final roster projection up on Friday, because roster cuts are due in Saturday -- stay tuned to Dawgs By Nature for all of the latest.