CHICAGO — The Browns rested most of their starters in their preseason finale against the Bears, but trust that Thursday night's game could carry lasting implications.
In its fourth and final exhibition game, Cleveland defeated Chicago, 25-0, at Soldier Field, posting an undefeated mark in the preseason for the first time since 1986.
And as the likes of Joe Thomas, Jamie Collins, Christian Kirksey, Isaiah Crowell, Myles Garrett, DeShone Kizer and Corey Coleman watched from the sideline, their teammates had one final chance to shine before the club trims its roster to 53 members by Saturday afternoon.
A turning point came when Browns quarterback Cody Kessler, who started in place of rookie starter DeShone Kizer, tossed a 27-yard touchdown pass to Rannell Hall, who promptly did a somersault into the end zone, shortly before halftime.
The play broke open a scoreless game and gave Cleveland a lead it did not relinquish as the Browns outgained the Bears, 380-158.
Kessler, who started eight games as a rookie in 2016, finished 11-of-18 for 144 yards as he competes to be Cleveland's backup quarterback.
Kevin Hogan, who led the game-winning drive to beat Tampa Bay last weekend, found similar success against the Bears' backups. He completed 13-of-17 throws for 180 yards and two touchdown passes, including a 51-yarder to tight end Randall Telfer late in the third quarter.
Cleveland's defense — which now hasn't surrendered a touchdown in three games — continued that domination in Chicago, holding the Bears to eight first downs and just 68 yards in the first half.
For the first time since 1986, the Browns finished the preseason 4-0 with wins over Chicago, Tampa Bay, the New York Giants and New Orleans. Since joining the NFL in 1950, the Browns have only had a perfect preseason four times. The team went undefeated in 1950 (5-0), 1962 (5-0), 1982 (4-0) and 1986 (4-0).
Cleveland next hosts Pittsburgh on Sept. 10 in their season opener.