Bears Finish Preseason Strong, Hammer Browns

The Bears had high expectations coming off a 2005 NFC North title, but for the most part, the 2006 preseason has provided more questions than answers. Fortunately, head coach Lovie Smith got the performance he needed on Thursday night as his club completely dominated the Browns 20-7 in Cleveland. Most importantly, Rex Grossman finally looked like the Rex Grossman everyone knows he can be.

After three maddening weeks, Rex Grossman finally got his offense into the end zone, and at least for a while, the critics off his back.

Grossman threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to tight end Desmond Clark, the first TD by Chicago's starting offense in the preseason, leading the Bears to a 20-7 exhibition win over the Browns on Thursday night in Cleveland.

Devin Hester's 54-yard punt return set up Grossman's scoring toss early in the first quarter, marking the fourth consecutive contest the rookie out of Miami has taken a punt back at least 19 yards.

Grossman played two series and finished 5-of-8 for 73 yards with a score, also leading the Bears on a long drive that ended in Robbie Gould's 27-yard field goal.

The former Gator was booed off the field by Chicago fans last week during a loss to Arizona, but he looked much more relaxed the short time he was in there. Head coach Lovie Smith was cautious and rested his starters most of the game.

Kyle Orton orchestrated an 80-yard scoring drive that ended with P.J. Pope's 2-yard TD run with about five minutes left that made it 20-7.

While the Bears made significant progress, the Browns starting offense left much to be desired.

Quarterback Charlie Frye went 1-of-4 for only eight yards, and Cleveland's first unit picked up only seven 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 the backup QB, led the Browns to their only score late in the first half. His 5-yard TD pass to Frisman Jackson with four 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. Dorsey was a rather unimpressive 2-of-7 for 18 yards.

In a strange twist to the evening, Browns coach Romeo Crennel hardly played running back Lee Suggs and didn't even suit up fellow tailback 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 seven yards, and wide receiver Braylon Edwards failed to dent the stat sheet. The Browns are being cautious with Edwards, whose speedy recovery from last season's devastating knee injury has been a welcome sight during training camp.

Rookie linebacker Kamerion Wimbley had another impressive outing in Cleveland's 3-4 scheme. The former Seminole nearly sacked Griese on consecutive plays in the first quarter, including a shot on 2nd-and-7 that had Griese ducking for cover.

Chicago's starting offense had managed just two field goals in the club's first three exhibition games. 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.

Hester ran Cleveland's first punt all the way back to the 20. Three plays later, Grossman hit a Clark after a nice play-action fake for a quick 7-0 Bears lead.

Following a three-and-out by Frye and the Browns, 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.

The Bears will open the regular season at Green Bay on September 10th.


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