Reporting Daryl Ruiter
CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Browns wrapped up the preseason with a less than spectacular 28-20 loss to the Chicago Bears Thursday night at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Coach Pat Shurmur gave Brandon Weeden, the starting offensive line and nearly all of his starters on defense – minus rookie linebacker James-Michael Johnson, who played – the night off.
Already thin at linebacker, Johnson sustained what the team said is an oblique injury in the second quarter. The good news is that x-rays were negative.
“That happens in games quite a bit,” Shurmur said. “We really had a shell group out there tonight. I think we played this game with roughly 40 players, so there was a lot of guys that took a lot of reps and some of the guys had to play unfortunately.”
Colt McCoy started and the offense quickly went 3 and out on their first offensive series.
Montario Hardesty ran for 3 yards, McCoy’s pass to Greg Little was incomplete before he found Travis Benjamin for 4 yards but short of the first down.
It would be that kind of night.
Chicago missed an opportunity to take a 3-0 lead on their first possession but Robbie Gould shanked a 35-yard field goal attempt wide left.
McCoy’s second drive ended in an interception. Bears safety Jeremy Jones came up with the ball which was thrown too high for Jordan Norwood.
It took the Bears 1 play to cash in the pick for 6. Josh McCown found Dane Sanzenbacher for a 30-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead. Rookie corner Trevin Wade was draped all over the former Buckeye who made a beautiful diving catch in the end zone.
McCoy went 2-for-5 for 16 yards with an interception and a 9.2 quarterback rating before taking the rest of the night off.
“Tonight was tough,” McCoy said. “It was hard to get into a rhythm in the first quarter but we made a few plays, and we just gotta stay out of third and long. When you get into third and long situations like that, they’re gonna play two deep safeties and it’s hard living.”
The Bears grabbed a 14-0 lead when McCown found running back Armando Allen, who was lined up in the slot, for an 11-yard touchdown. Allen beat Davis Sims on the slant into the end zone.
Seneca Wallace took over in the second quarter and fared a little better.
Wallace cut Chicago’s lead in half with a 2-yard touchdown to Rod Windsor in the back of the end zone which capped an 8 play, 80-yard drive with 0:41 to play in the half.
“I can only control what I can control on the field and try to move the ball and score points,” Wallace said. “That’s what the preseason is about.”
Running back Brandon Jackson ran for 48 yards on 7 carries in the second quarter. Montario Hardesty racked up 24 yards on 6 carries with McCoy under center in the first.
“Well, I’m running for a spot on this team,” Jackson said. “I was always running for a spot on this team and, like I said last before last week, I just want to move the chains. I want to get my offensive team going, and just move the ball and get a first down.”
Phil Dawson, who is as close to automatic as they come, hit a 39-yard field goal to make it a 4 point game at 14-10 as the Browns turned Tashaun Gipson’s interception of McCown into 3 points.
Thaddeus Lewis mopped up the second half – and it was messy.
It took the Bears less than 90 seconds to put 2 TD’s on the board in the third quarter.
Lewis’ pass intended for Josh Gordon was deflected by Bears cornerback Greg McCoy, the ball bounced off Gordon’s calf kicking it up in the air for McCoy to grab and run 15-yards up the far sideline for a touchdown and a 21-10 lead.
The replacement officials initially missed the call but Bears coach Lovie Smith successfully challenged and it was overturned by replay.
Chicago quickly added another score when linebacker Patrick Trahan pushed Rod Windsor into Reggie Hodges’ punting lane. The ball hit Windsor in the back and receiver Brittan Golden scooped it up and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown.
It was the second time in as many games that the Browns had a punt blocked.
In 2 games they’ve given up 38 points, 21 Thursday night, because of turnovers.
“The story is turnovers,” Shurmur said. “You factor in the blocked punt as well, my goodness gracious and 21 points. I was always better at English but 21 points and you lose 28-21, that’s the message.
“That’s a fatal flaw in a game when you want to try and win it.”
Adonis Thomas showed his speed and strength in the second half with a 64-yard burst up the far sideline. He capped a 5-play 80 yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to make it a 28-17 game.
Phil Dawson’s 42-yard field goal with 4:58 to play in the game brought Cleveland within 28-20 but that’s as close as they got.