Browns 35, Bears 24
CLEVELAND (AP) _ Rookie quarterback Tim Couch watched Ty Detmer from the sideline in the first half then rallied Cleveland to its first victory in the Browns’ new stadium Saturday night, 35-24 over the Chicago Bears.
Couch, using mostly short passes to move the yard markers, led Cleveland to 13 unanswered points in the second half. Showing why the expansion Browns (2-2) made him the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, Couch looked polished in finishing 10-of-14 for 128 yards.
Detmer, expected to start this season while serving as Couch’s mentor, threw two TD passes and ran for a score in the first half as Cleveland’s first-string offense showed big-play potential for the first time. The Browns combined for just 40 points in their first three exhibition games.
Detmer finished 10-of-15 for 154 yards with two interceptions.
The Bears (2-2), whose starting quarterback situation is less certain, led 24-19 at halftime thanks to outstanding special teams. D’Wayne Bates returned a kickoff 86 yards for a TD in the first half.
Bears rookie quarterback Cade McNown went just 4-for-10 for 42 yards after replacing starter Shane Matthews in the second quarter. Matthews, likely to be the Bears’ backup, played just the first quarter and went 11-of-13 for 66 yards.
After setting up two field goals to give the Browns a 25-24 lead early in the fourth quarter, Couch hit fullback Tarek Saleh over the middle with a short pass and Saleh broke three tackles on his way to the end zone for a 27-yard scoring play with 5:15 left.
Chris Boniol, signed last week after being cut by Philadelphia, kicked two field goals for the Browns.
The Browns got a scare in the first quarter when middle linebacker Chris Spielman sustained a neck ``stinger″ following a violent collision with Bears center Casey Wiegmann.
Spielman, who underwent neck fusion surgery in 1997, was attempting to cut back on a running play when he was blindsided.
Spielman was helped to his feet and walked wobbly to the sideline where he was worked on before being escorted to the locker room. He didn’t return to the field.
McNown, taken by the Bears with the 12th pick in the first round, threw a 19-yard TD pass to Marcus Robinson in the first half to put Chicago ahead 17-7.
The Browns got a break on their next possession when Bears cornerback Terry Cousin was flagged on a questionable interference call, giving Cleveland a first down at the Chicago 3.
After being sacked, Detmer scrambled on third down and scored on a 7-yard run, diving over the pylon to bring the Browns within 17-13.
It took the Bears only 11 seconds to counter as Bates, fielding his first kickoff of the preseason, broke the Browns’ first wave of defenders and went the distance to make it 24-13.
Detmer drove the Browns 76 yards in 58 seconds, connecting with rookie Kevin Johnson for a 21-yard TD pass with 11 seconds to go in the half.
Taking mostly three-step drops, Matthews was 5-of-6 on the Bears’ first drive, throwing a nice fade to Conway for a TD from 1 yard out to give Chicago a 7-0 lead.
Conway finished with eight receptions for 47 yards.
The Browns tied it when Detmer hit Leslie Shepherd over the middle for a 42-yard scoring pass.
Chicago took a 10-7 lead with 58 seconds remaining in the first quarter on Ryan Gowins’ 29-yard field goal.