CHICAGO — Jordan Howard rushed for two touchdowns, rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky ran one in himself and the Bears kept the Cleveland Browns winless with a 20-3 victory on Sunday at Soldier Field on Sunday.
If the Browns (0-15) lose next week’s finale at Pittsburgh, they will join the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only NFL teams to go 0-16. With Sunday’s defeat, Cleveland secured the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL draft.
Howard’s touchdowns were his eighth and ninth this season, and gave the second-year running back four in his last three games.
Trubisky, from Mentor, Ohio, connected on 14 of 23 passing attempts for 193 yards and rushed for 44 yards as he met his hometown team for the first time. Cleveland passed on drafting him with the No. 1 pick earlier this year.
The rookie got rolling in the second half after an apparent Cleveland interception and touchdown were erased by a Browns’ penalty.
Zane Gonzalez’s 48-yard field goal accounted for all the scoring for the Browns, who entered the game as the first NFL team to open consecutive seasons 0-14.
The defense of the Bears (5-10) erased two prime scoring chances for the Browns.
Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer’s pass was intercepted by Kyle Fuller in the end zone late in the second quarter, then Rashard Higgins was forced into a fumble by Danny Travathan just short of the goal line in the third.
Kizer completed 18 of 36 passes for 182 yards and was intercepted twice.
Both teams kept their games close to the ground at snowy Solider Field until Trubisky started connecting the second half. The stadium, which has 61,500 seats for football, was only about half full with game-time temperature of 24 degrees.
Chicago led 6-3 after 30 minutes.
Howard found a seam and dashed in for a touchdown from the 2-yard line late in the first quarter to cap a nine-play, 57-yard drive and give the Bears a 6-0 lead. Cleveland’s Carl Nassib blocked Mike Nugent’s extra-point attempt.
After connecting on just one his first seven passes, Kizer hit on five straight attempts during an 11-play march late in the second quarter that moved the Browns to the Chicago 28-yard line. But Kizer’s throw intended for Josh Gordon was intercepted in the end zone for by Fuller with 2:04 left in the half.
The Browns managed to close it to 6-3 on Gonzalez’s field goal with 6 seconds left. The kick was set up after Kizer hit Ricardo Louis for a 35-yard pass.
It looked like Cleveland had jumped ahead on the first play of the second half when Trubisky’s pass intended for Howard was intercepted by Myles Garrett and run back to the end zone.
But an offside by Nassib negated the score, and Chicago came back four plays and 2:37 later to make it 13-3.
Howard found daylight and ran the ball in from 16 yards to cap the drive. The play was set up by Trubisky’s pass to Benny Cunningham that netted 40 yards.
Trubisky ran in the Bears third touchdown himself from 4 yards out with 3:27 left in the third to finish a 12-play, 66-yard march. After the rookie and several teammates celebrated by making snow angels in the end zone, Nugent’s extra point stretched Chicago’s lead to 20-3.
Higgins caught Kizer’s pass the final minute of the third, but fumbled it at the 3-yard line when it was knocked away by Trevathan.
NOTES: Cleveland’s lone win last season came on Christmas Eve against the then-San Diego Chargers. … UCLA QB Josh Rosen would rather play for the New York Giants as opposed to the Browns, according to an ESPN report. Rosen said would be hesitant to come out in the 2018 NFL draft if he knew Cleveland would select him with the No. 1 overall pick. … Bears TE Zach Miller returned to Soldier Field on Sunday as he continues to recover from an injury that nearly cost him his left. Miller walked to the sidelines and addressed the crowd in an interview shown on the video board. He has undergone eight surgeries since suffering a torn artery while dislocating his knee trying to make a touchdown catch in New Orleans in late October. … Inactives for Cleveland included CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun (knee), WR Matt Hazel (hamstring), CB Jamar Taylor (foot). Chicago’s inactives included G Josh Sitton (ankle), T Tom Compton (concussion) and TE Adam Shaheen (chest).