CLEVELAND — Robert Griffin III led Cleveland’s starting offense on a short touchdown drive against Chicago’s defensive backups in a 21-7 exhibition loss to the Bears on Thursday night.
Ka’Deem Carey scored on a 1-yard run in the first half, rookie Jordan Howard had a 16-yard TD run and Robbie Gould kicked three field goals as the Bears (1-3) avoided a winless preseason.
Not the Browns, who look as if they could use more time before the Sept. 11 opener.
Isaiah Crowell had a 4-yard TD for the Browns (0-4), who played Griffin and the offensive starters for the first quarter. RG3, attempting to revive his career in Cleveland after an ugly departure from Washington, went 4 of 8 for 31 yards during his three series.
Griffin’s night might have been over after the second possession, but the Bears fumbled a punt, giving Cleveland the ball at the Chicago 18.
Griffin threw two incompletions in the end zone before Crowell — with Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas watching from the sideline — squirted in on third down to give the Browns a 7-3 lead. It took Cleveland six plays to cover the 18 yards.
Following a dismal performance last week at Tampa Bay, Browns coach Hue Jackson felt his starters needed more playing time before his team takes on Philadelphia in 10 days. He was willing to risk the potential for injuries so his players could carry some confidence into Week 1.
This may give them a little.
Cleveland’s first-string offense — the defense came out after one series — didn’t exactly dominate the Bears backups, and Griffin, who connected on several deep passes in the first three exhibitions, only completed one pass to a wide receiver.
Unfortunately for the Browns, Josh Gordon will miss the first four games of the regular season while serving an NFL suspension for drug violations. He had three catches for 29 yards.
Still, Jackson was pleased with his team’s effort.
“Yeah, they got the work in that I wanted,” he said. “We started slow, though. We have to start a little faster.”
Unlike Jackson, Bears coach John Fox rested his starters, allowing him and his staff to get a longer look at some of the players fighting for roster spots.
Brian Hoyer seems secure as Chicago’s No. 2 QB behind Jay Cutler, and the veteran finished his preseason with a solid night, going 12 of 16 for 112 yards. He only had one starter with him on offense — wide receiver Kevin White, who had four catches for 57 yards.
Gould’s field goals were from 27, 30 and 43 yards.