Bears Best Browns, Finish Preseason 3-1
WR Johnny Knox (Getty: Scott Boehm)
WR Johnny Knox (Getty: Scott Boehm)
Special to BearReport.com
Posted Sep 3, 2009


With several of the players who were on the bubble having a good night in the preseason finale, coach Lovie Smith has some some difficult decisions to make before finalizing his 53-man roster. The result didn't matter, but the Midway Monsters finished the exhibition slate 3-1 by beating Cleveland 26-23.

The first pass of the game got picked off. Good thing for Brady Quinn he wasn't the one throwing it. Neither was Derek Anderson.

Eric Mangini didn't need another look at his top quarterbacks, so he gave them the night off rather than one more audition. And if he has decided on a starter, well, he wasn't saying.

"I have no additional information on that," he said Thursday night. "There's nothing to add."

Brett Ratliff started the preseason finale for the Browns and led a touchdown drive after throwing that early interception against Chicago. Robbie Gould kicked two of his four field goals in the fourth quarter, though, leading the Bears past Cleveland 26-23 Thursday in the preseason finale.

When Mangini said he wasn't sure who would start this week, many assumed it would be Quinn or Anderson. Well, not quite.

Ratliff got intercepted by Zackary Bowman on the game's first play from scrimmage, leading to a 43-yard field goal by Gould, but made a decent recovery. He threw a touchdown on the next possession and was 8 of 20 overall while playing in the first and fourth quarters.

Richard Bartel played the middle two periods for Cleveland and was 12 of 14 for 137 yards and did not throw a TD or get picked off.

Chicago's Jay Cutler had a short night, playing just one series and not attempting a pass.

"I'll just say it was a long game," he said with a big grin while wiping his brow.

Cutler didn't even bother to throw in the pregame warmups, and when asked why he even played, he deferred to coach Lovie Smith.

That Cutler's time on the field was limited was no shocker, but the decision to keep Quinn and Anderson on the sideline was a bit of a surprise.


RB Kevin Jones
Getty Images: Scott Boehm

"It was really the bigger approach," said Mangini, who kept just about all his projected starters out of the game. "It wasn't just the quarterback position. It was just about every position on the team."

The two split time this preseason while playing close to a statistical standstill, with Quinn starting the first and third preseason games and Anderson the second.

With both quarterbacks sitting, Ratliff got the start after spending 2007 on the New York Jets' practice squad and last year on the sideline even though he was on their active roster. Things certainly didn't look good at the start when Bowman lunged in front of Brian Robiskie along the sideline near midfield for the interception.

The Bears took over on the Cleveland 44, and Cutler handed off to Kevin Jones six straight times, putting the ball on the 25 before Gould booted the 43-yarder.

The Browns quickly answered, with James Davis breaking off a 21-yard run to put them on the Bears’ 35 and Ratliff capping the drive with a 7-yarder over the middle to Mohamed Massaquoi.

Chicago's night took another bad turn on the second play of the next possession, when Jones left the game with a left ankle injury. He had just been knocked out of bounds following a 6-yard gain when Cleveland's Marcus Benard got called for a late hit, although it was not clear if that was when the injury occurred.

That gave him 25 yards on seven carries, while Caleb Hanie went 9 of 13 with 119 yards, a touchdown and interception for Chicago. Johnny Knox broke off a 50-yard kickoff return, setting up an 18-yard TD pass from Brett Basanez to Brandon Rideau that tied it at 20 midway through the third. Gould booted a 47-yarder early in the fourth to give the Bears a 23-20 lead and added a 39-yarder about six minutes later to make it a six-point game.

"Some players took advantage of their last opportunity to show that they belong on a 53-man roster," Smith said. "I like what Johnny Knox was able to do returning and just his overall game. I like the way Juaquin Iglesias caught the ball at the end of the game, Brett Basanez stepping in."


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