Who would have thought that Lanning would be the hero of the fourth preseason game? Coming into camp, Lanning was competing with T.J. Conley for the punting job. After Conley was cut, it appeared that Lanning had won the job. This week the Browns claimed punter Colton Schmidt. The advantage Schmidt has on Lanning is that he can kick-off. Supposedly booming kick-offs.
Thursday night however, the advantage was Spencer Lanning’s. Lanning was pressed into duty as the emergency place kicker after Shayne Graham’s back tightened up and he wasn’t able to play. All the punter did was kick two of three field goal attempts, including the game winner with 3:15 left in the fourth quarter. Lanning punted twice with a 52 yard average. Schmidt punted once for 49 yards, pinning the Bears inside the 10 yard line.
Brian Hoyer went all four quarters for the Browns as Jason Campbell was held out with the flu. He completed 24 of 35 passes for 307 yards and a touchdown. He threw two interceptions.
David Nelson did not start the game, but played and was targeted 10 times. He made four receptions for 54 yards. He had a couple of slips and a dropped a sure first down on a slant. He seemed to cramp late in the game. Nelson was making his preseason debut for the Browns after being held out with leg injuries. Nelson tore his ACL in the first game of the season last year playing for the Buffalo Bills and underwent surgery. He has had other leg issues in camp missing the majority of action during practice.
Tori Gurley made three catches for 56 yards and contributed on special teams in his attempt to make the team. Fourth team tight end Dan Gronkowski caught a 14 yard touchdown pass.
Defensively, the Browns started slow. Chicago jumped out to 10-0 lead early in the second quarter. The Bears racked up 77 yards on 17 carries in the first half, with most of those yards coming right up the middle. They recovered in the second half, holding the Bears to a pair of field goals.
Quentin Groves started and was clearly the best player on the field during his snaps. He finished with a pair of tackles, one sack, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hit. L.J. Fort and Tank Carder got to the Bears quarterback to split a sack, new acquisition Paul Hazel made a sack and Brian Sanford forced an intentional grounding penalty. Armonty Bryant put pressure on the quarterback as well, and forced a fumble late in the game to set up Lanning’s winning field goal.
James Michael-Johnson caught a pass that was tipped right to him and raced down the sideline for a 23 yard interception return for a touchdown.
The win gives the Browns their first 3-1 record in the preseason since 2007. The Browns were 10-6 that season and just missed the playoffs. Ten wins.