Exhibition finales are odd affairs, all about protecting starters and whatever minor position battles remain.
How convenient, then, for rookie quarterback Kyle Orton to offer up a stirring high and a scary low in the first of the mere two possessions he directed Thursday night at Soldier Field.
Before many of the 47,784 fans could take their seats on a picture-perfect night, Orton took the first snap from scrimmage and found a streaking Muhsin Muhammad downfield for a 47-yard gain and pure delirium.
"We liked that quite a bit," coach Lovie Smith said. "Kyle has a strong arm. Hopefully, he'll be throwing a lot more like that for us."
Three plays later, on third down, Orton underthrew Justin Gage on an apparent miscommunication and Leigh Bodden intercepted the pass in the end zone.
"I saw the blitz coming and I saw the one-on-one [coverage] over there," Orton said. "I wanted to give Justin a chance, but I left the ball inside a little too much."
On Orton's only other drive, he hit Bernard Berrian for a 13-yard gain but also got sacked by Jason Fisk for a 5-yard loss before the Bears punted. After nine snaps, Orton donned a baseball cap and pondered a 2-for-4 night for 60 yards, an interception and a 56.2 passer rating.
"He was really excited," Muhammad said. "I said to him, 'You know when you get down there, your adrenaline's pumping and you can't make those kind of mistakes.' That's why we go through the preseason, so he can make those mistakes. When the regular season comes, he's going to make the right decision in that circumstance."
More troubling than Orton's interception was the inability of the Bears to get anything going offensively with Jeff Blake at quarterback, more struggles by defensive reserves and costly penalties.
Blake finished 5-for-10 for 37 yards and an interception. Emblematic of his problems were a broken play on his first possession in which he was forced to take a sack and a poor read that Sean Jones intercepted.
General manager Jerry Angelo said earlier this week that he didn't feel great about the quarterback situation. Kurt Kittner's 45-yard scoring strike to rookie wideout Mark Bradley had to make him feel better.
The Bears managed four first downs on the four possessions Blake directed.
Meanwhile, linebacker Brian Urlacher sat to avoid injury, and the first-team defense played for just one series. Facing surprise starter Charlie Frye, the Browns' third-string quarterback, the unit allowed one first down before forcing a punt.
Over 26 possessions during the exhibition schedule, the starting defense allowed just one touchdown and entered Thursday's action ranked No. 1 against the run, allowing just 57 yards per game.
Still, Cleveland led 10-0 at halftime after racking up 242 first-half yards, most of them against a second-team Bears defense that struggled.
On that unit's first possession, cornerback Jerrell Pippens got called for an illegal-hands-to-the-face penalty that negated Chris Harris' pass defense on third down. Pippens then got beat on a 48-yard pass play to Antonio Bryant as the Bears' secondary depth continues to be an issue.
That Browns' drive ended with Phil Dawson missing a 41-yard field goal.
But Cleveland marched downfield at will on its next two possessions. Reuben Droughns capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. The Browns picked up five first downsfour rushingon the drive that lasted 5 minutes 27 seconds.
Dawson then kicked a 30-yard field goal on the last play of the first half, and he added two more in the second half.
Bradley beat Antonio Perkins and Jones to make a spectacular, diving catch of Kittner's bomb with 9:26 left, finally putting the Bears on the board.
The Bears finished their exhibition schedule with a 3-2 mark. Now comes practice, which, given the Bears' defensive strength, Smith insists is enough for a rookie quarterback who has directed just three drives against first-team defenses in exhibition games.
Strap in. This could be a sometimes fun, sometimes bumpy and always wild ride.
Browns 16, Bears 6