Bears Drop Finale

Chicago - Although the Bears dropped a 16-6 decision to the Browns to closeout the preseason, the only storyline that mattered is how a certain rookie quarterback played.

If the first play as a starter is any indication of how Kyle Orton will fair, the Bears offense might be good enough after all.

Orton connected on the team's longest completion of the preseason, hitting Muhsin Muhammad in stride for a 47-yard gain.

"It was a good play to start," Orton said.

The play call was scripted and the Bears caught the Browns in a defense that allowed Muhammad to get deep in one-on-one coverage.

"As I came off the ball I thought we were in the wrong coverage for the play, but eventually they switched to the right coverage," Muhammad said. "I beat the corner and Kyle put it up perfect, I just wish I could have broke that last tackle there."

However, three plays later Orton's inexperience caught up with him, as he threw an interception in the end zone. He read the blitz properly and went to Justin Gage, but the pass wasn't wear he intended and it allowed Leigh Bodden to make an interception.

"When the regular season comes, he's going to make the right decision," Muhammad said.

On two series, Orton completed 2-of-4 passes for 60 yards. He was sacked once and threw an interception.

Although Orton didn't lead the offense to a score, he was able to move the chains on each drive he was under center.

He finished the preseason 29-of-46 for 469 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. His passer rating was 84.4.

"We know that he is our best quarterback and he gives us a great option to win," said head coach Lovie Smith.

In ten days that theory will be tested, when the Bears open the season at Washington with Orton as the starting quarterback. While Orton believed he would eventually win a starting job in the NFL, even he admits things are happening faster than expected.

"Not on opening day, it's unbelievable," Orton said. "I never heard anything like that with a fourth round pick."

Orton didn't have the benefit of a strong running game against the Browns. Thomas Jones rushed four times for 10 yards and nine of those came on a draw play on third down and 20.

The Bears had their lowest rushing output of the season with 48 yards, but Jones points to the team looking toward the Sept. 11th opener.

"I played two series, Adrian Peterson played like three series, plus it was the last preseason game," Jones said. "I think a lot us were basically thinking about the Washington Redskins. It's coming up next week and that's what we've been practicing for the whole training camp, for that first game"

With just four total series with the first team offense, Orton will need to cram for the start of the season.

"Just got to live in the film room and work and not be surprised by anything," Orton said.

What Orton lacks in experience, he makes up for with playmaking ability. He averaged 10.1 yards per pass attempt in five games and had five completions over 20 yards.

"I think we've got a guy that has a knack for making plays," Muhammad said. "I feel comfortable with throwing the ball and making plays."

Despite making his first start in front of 47,784fans, Orton displayed the poise that the offense has come to expect from him over the preseason.

"He definitely comes ready to play," Muhammad said. "I saw a lot of fire, he took command of the huddle and he really thinks this is his offense."

When Orton left the game it was scoreless. Cleveland ran off 16 unanswered points behind a strong running game.

For the first time this preseason, their opponent out rushed the Bears. Chicago had a 300 -yard rushing difference through four games, but the Browns out gained the Bears by 155 yards on the ground. Reuben Droughns scored Cleveland's only touchdown and had nine carries for 60 yards.

Three Phil Dawson field goals extended the lead to 16-0 as the Chicago offense struggled under backup QB Jeff Blake.

In his first extensive action with the Bears, Blake finished with numbers similar to Chad Hutchison. He had a 19.6 passer rating, connected on 5-of-10 attempts for 37 yards and an interception

"Jeff needs to play better than he did tonight," Smith said.

Kurt Kittner and Mark Bradley got the Bears on the board with just under ten minutes to go in the game. The rookie receiver made an over the shoulder diving catch of a Kittner pass for a 45-yard touchdown.

"It was a double post and it was cover-two," Kittner said of the route and coverage. "I tried to keep Mark wide and he did a good job of adjusting because he was expecting the ball inside but I threw it way outside. He got over there and made a great catch."

A failed Kittner scramble on a two-point conversion resulted in the 16-6 final.

The only thing that can be taken from the game after Orton's exit is the coaching staff had one last chance to evaluate players competing for roster spots.

"It at least helped them," Smith said. "We have had four preseason games before this so we have had a chance to really see. In order to change our opinion you really had to have a special game."

Cuts could trickle in later today, as the 53-man roster is due by 5 p.m. on Saturday.

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