In a game that most of the Browns players who will play in the season opener with the Dolphins were wearing baseball caps on the sideline, one player was working overtime.
Brian Hoyer played the entire game after scheduled starter Jason Campbell was ruled out with flu-like symptoms. Starter Brandon Weeden was given the night off.
Hoyer led the Browns to two late scores to propel the Browns to a 18-16 win over the Bears in the preseason finale at Soldier Field in Chicago. The Browns finished the preseason 3-1.
Hoyer threw a touchdown pass to Dan Gronkowski from 14 yards out to make it 16-15 with 6:47 to play after leading the Browns on an eight play, 76-yard drive for the score. The Browns went for a two-point conversion that failed.
On the drive, Hoyer hit David Nelson on a sideline out route and then followed with a pass across the middle to Mike Edwards to set up the touchdown pass to Gronkowski.
Moments later, L.J. Fort recovered a fumble by Harvey Unga and Hoyer put the Browns in position for punter, converted kicker, Spencer Lanning to hit a 40-yard field goal to give the Browns their first lead of the game.
“We eventually strung a drive together and got a touchdown,” Hoyer said. “We then were able to get down there and get a field goal at the end.”
Hoyer finished 24-of-35 for 307 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Hoyer scrambled for a first down to allow the Browns to run out the clock and preserve the win.
He hit Josh Gordon on the first play of the game for 45 yards. However, two plays later, Hoyer tried to hit Gordon, but the receiver failed to come back for the ball and he was intercepted.
“We moved the ball OK,” Chudzinski said at halftime. “We just have to keep those drives going.”
In the first half, Hoyer was 13-of-18 for 207 yards with a touchdown and one interception.
Hoyer grew up in North Olmsted and played high school football at St. Ignatius.
“It’s awesome,” Hoyer said. “It’s a dream. I just want to be a part of this.”
Nelson Returns: WR David Nelson played his first preseason game with mixed results. Nelson entered the game with 12:03 to play in the second quarter and caught a 4-yard pass from QB Brian Hoyer for his first reception. He then dropped a short pass on the next play that should’ve been a first down. Hoyer hooked up with Nelson for two more receptions in the first half, including a 21-yard reception. He also caught a side line route that set up the Browns 32-yard field goal to end the first half. He finished with four receptions for 54 yards. Nelson played into the third quarter and fell down on the first pass thrown his way in the third quarter. He later slipped on another pass thrown his way. In the fourth quarter, Hoyer tried to go down the field on the sideline, but the Bears defensive back went up and intercepted the pass. WR Tori Gurley caught three passes for 56 yards.
JMJ Pick Six: LB James-Michael Johnson picked off a pass by QB Trent Edwards for a 23-yard touchdown in the third quarter on a pass that went off of a Bears receiver. Johnson, who was a fourth-round draft choice in 2012, ha been running behind LB Craig Robertson at inside linebacker. Johnson finished with five tackles.
Hold the Fort: LB L.J. Fort recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter that gave the Browns a chance to take the lead. He also tied for the team lead with 7 tackles and had a half sack with teammate LB Tank Carder.
Flash Gordon: WR Josh Gordon started and caught a 45-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage. On the next series, Gordon caught another pass for 32 yards and finished with two receptions for 77 yards. Gordon will be suspended for the first two regular season games and will not be allowed to be in the facility during that time.
BJax: Jackson came into the preseason averaging just 1.7 yards per carry on 23 rushes for 38 yards. Jackson had five carries for five yards and one reception for 12 yards.
Positiion Battles: OL Oniel Cousins was one of the few projected starters to start the game at right guard. OL Garrett Gilkey alternated with Cousins.
Smelley: FB Brad Smelley caught two passes for 22 yards, including a 21-yard reception on the Browns first scoring drive. Smelley has played tight end and fullback and is listed as the second fullback after the release of Owen Marecic earlier this week. Smelley left the game in the second half with a shoulder injury and did not return.
Young DBs: CB Leon McFadden, CB Akeem Auguste, CB Abdul Kanneh. McFadden and Auguste started at cornerback, while Bademosi and Aubrey started at safety.
S Johnson Bademosi, S Jamoris Slaughter and S Josh Aubrey are battling for spots at safety. Kanneh was beaten by WR Joe Anderson for a touchdown in the second quarter on a fade route. McFadden led the Browns with 7 tackles, while Bademosi and Auguste had 6. Aubrey had four tackles.
Sack Attack: Newly acquired LB Paul Hazel had a sack as did LB Quentin Groves. LB Tank Carder and LB L.J. Fort shared a sack
Lanning Does It All: When K Shayne Graham’s back tightened in pre game warmups, P Spencer Lanning was called upon to kick field goals. He missed his first attempt from 42 yards, but did hit a 32-yard field goal and a 40-yard field goal that proved to be the game winner. P/K Colton Schmidt alternated with P Spencer Lanning. Schmidt also did the holding and handled the kickoffs. Lanning attempted a 41-yard field goal in the first quarter and it was wide left. Schmidt was the holder. Lanning then hit a 32-yard field goal to end the first half. Schmidt had a 49-yard punt that was downed at the 7-yard line.
Lanning had a 65-yard punt o his first attempt. Because Graham was unable to kick, the Browns went for two point conversions on both of their touchdowns, both which were unsuccessful. However, Lanning made a 40-yard field goal to give the Browns a 18-16 lead with 3:15 to pay. Lanning averaged 50 yards a punt on two punts, including a long of 57 yards.
Cookie Man: RB Jamaine Cook carried the ball 12 times for 28 yards.
No Martin: LB Eric Martin, who was claimed on waivers from the Saints was supposed to play against the Bears. However, he needed to complete his physical in Cleveland and didn’t make the trip to Chicago.
Turk Looms: NFL teams must have their rosters trimmed to 53 by Sat. at 6 pm. Between the Browns and the Bears, 44 players that played in the game will likely be released.
Old Friend: Former Browns offensive coordinator Marc Trestman is the Bears first year head coach.
Q Groves, A Bryant Impress: LB Quentin Groves was in on the first two tackles, one for loss. Groves sacked QB Jordan Palmer in the first quarter. DL Armonty Bryant had pressure on QB Jordan Palmer as did DL Brian Sanford. Bryant had pressure on the interception return for a touchdown by LB James-Michael Johnson. He also was credited with a sack later with LB Kendrick Adams.
Injury Report: K Brandon Bogotay (groin), DL Desmond Bryant (back), TE Jordan Cameron (groin), OL Shawn Lauvao (ankle) , LB Barkevious Mingo (lung), OL Jason Pinkston (ankle), K Shayne Graham (back), DB Jamoris Slaughter (groin), DB Chris Owens (ankle)He did not play due to injury.