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Published: Saturday, 8/13/2011

NFL

Stafford tosses 2 TDs as Lions rout Bengals

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford throws a seven-yard touchdown pass to Nate Burleson against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first quarter of an NFL preseason football game in Detroit. Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford throws a seven-yard touchdown pass to Nate Burleson against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first quarter of an NFL preseason football game in Detroit.
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DETROIT -- Matthew Stafford hopes his first exhibition game was a preview of what's to come this season.

He was effective and finished the game without an injury.

Stafford threw touchdown passes on his two drives, and the Detroit Lions went on to beat the Cincinnati Bengals 34-3 Friday night.

The No. 1 overall pick in 2009 was able to play just three games last year and 10 as a rookie.

"I think we're pretty exciting to watch when all the pieces are together," Stafford said.

The Lions closed last season with a four-game winning streak, finishing 6-10, without their franchise quarterback on the field. They want him along every step of the way this year to help the team match relatively high hopes.

Stafford got on and off the field in one piece -- registering as more of a win than the score for Detroit -- just 5-plus minutes into the exhibition opener for both teams.

"Our guys up front did a good job," he said. "We came into the game thinking about getting the ball out quick, trying to get the ball out of my hands and get it into some other guys' hands and let them make some plays. It ended up being great."

It started off rough for rookie Andy Dalton.

Cincinnati's QB was hit by Ndamukong Suh after taking his first NFL snap, and Chris Houston intercepted the underthrown pass.

"It definitely didn't start the way we wanted it to," Dalton said. "There was a lot of anticipation for me coming into the first snap of the game. They scored, they kicked off, and then we fumbled the kickoff. So there was more of that anticipation, and then there was that first play.

"I felt that after that we came out and drove the ball well. We were able to move the ball."

The second-round pick finished 11-of-15 for 69 yards, putting Cincinnati in a position to attempt two field goals. Mike Nugent made one to make it 14-3.

Lions backup quarterback Shaun Hill ran for a score, and Jason Hanson kicked a field goal to give Detroit a 24-3 lead at halftime.

Hill was just 1-of-7 for seven yards, but he scored on a seven-yard run in which he dove, got hit, and flipped into the end zone.

Detroit's third-string QB Drew Stanton led a drive that ended with Hanson's 37-yard field goal as time expired in the first half without a timeout to set up the play.

Fourth-stringer Zac Robinson made a 28-yard TD pass to Nate Hughes to give the Lions a 31-3 lead.

Stafford was 6-of-7 for 71 yards. He threw a 26-yard TD pass to Calvin Johnson, who didn't return to the field because of a bruised left shoulder, and a seven-yard score to Nate Burleson on an overturned play.

"Matt had great command," Jim Schwartz said. "He wasn't just going against a vanilla game plan."

The Lions forced a fumble on their first kickoff, hitting rookie John Griffin hard enough to free the football for a turnover.

They took advantage with Stafford's seven-yard, fourth-down pass to Burleson on a play ruled incomplete on the field. It became a TD after video review.

Dalton finally got a shot, then took the first of two from Suh. The reigning NFL defensive rookie of the year hit Dalton the first time he had a chance, then Suh slammed him to the turf late in the first quarter after he got rid of the ball. It drew an unnecessary roughness flag and might lead to a league fine.

"He's just so strong," Schwartz said. "When he's going to take you to the ground, it's going to look bad."

The former TCU star, though, kept his composure well enough to complete some passes and gain some much-needed experience.

Cincinnati plans to lean on Dalton to play right away because Carson Palmer has backed up his threat to retire, with four years left on his contract, if he wasn't traded after the franchise floundered to a 4-12 record last season.

The Bengals are counting on rookie receiver A.J. Green too. They made the former Georgia star the No. 4 overall pick, providing them with a potential replacement for Chad Ochocinco, who was later traded to New England and whose No. 85 jersey was given to recently signed receiver John Standeford.

Green caught four passes for 29 yards against Detroit.

"We obviously had some things that I was disappointed in," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "We have to find a way to get off the field on third down defensively. It seemed it was a negative throughout the night. No matter which group was in there we just didn't make plays to get off the field and get going.

"It's disappointing, the outcome as far as the score," Lewis added later. "But there are some positives we can build on and some negatives that we've got to get corrected."

NOTES: Bengals DE Victor Adeyanju (right ankle) and LB Dontay Moch (foot) were injured during the game. ... Detroit RB Jahvid Best ran for just 12 yards on four carries, and the recently signed Jerome Harrison and Mike Bell combined for 11 carries and 13 yards rushing.

REDSKINS 16, STEELERS 7

LANDOVER, Md. -- Rex Grossman completed 19-of-26 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown to help Washington beat Pittsburgh.

Hoping to gain an early edge over an injured John Beck for the starting job, Grossman hit Santana Moss for an eight-yard score in the second quarter -- although the drive came against Pittsburgh's second-string defense.

Beck did not play. He sat out after tweaking his groin in practice last week.

While the Redskins' starters played the entire first half, Pittsburgh's first-stringers were done for the game by the end of the first quarter. Backup Isaac Redman had a 22-yard touchdown run for the Steelers.

Saints 24, 49ers 3

NEW ORLEANS -- Mark Ingram had a spinning, tackle-breaking touchdown run in his NFL debut, and New Orleans beat San Francisco.

Ingram's 14-yard scoring run highlighted a performance in which the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner out of Alabama carried six times for 23 yards. Saints undrafted rookie Joseph Morgan, a little known prospect out of Walsh University, added a spectacular 78-yard punt return for a score.

David Akers hit a 59-yard field goal for San Francisco, a kick set up by rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick's 28-yard scramble late in the first half.

Dolphins 28, Falcons 23

ATLANTA -- Phillip Livas scored on a 75-yard punt return in the third quarter to help Miami overcome a difficult start by quarterback Chad Henne in the Dolphins' victory over Atlanta,

Atlanta rookie receiver Julio Jones, quarterback Matt Ryan, and running back Michael Turner contributed on first-quarter scoring drives that gave the Falcons a 17-0 lead.

Henne threw interceptions on two of Miami's first three possessions before connecting with Brian Hartline for a 44-yard touchdown pass that made it 17-7 early in the second quarter. Henne, who completed 4-of-8 passes for 77 yards, did his best work against Atlanta's defensive reserves.

But the same could be said, too, of Ryan, who completed just one of his first passes against Miami's defensive starters. The difference, however, was that the Atlanta QB threw one TD pass and didn't have an interceptions. Ryan finished 6-of-10 for 90 yards.

Buccaneers 25, Chiefs 0

KANSAS CITY -- Josh Freeman was smooth and efficient while leading Tampa Bay to points on three of the four series he played, and the third-year quarterback helped the Buccaneers take advantage of every bobble and blunder that the Chiefs made.

Freeman was 9-of-13 for 73 yards while playing for the first time at Arrowhead Stadium, just a few miles from where he grew into a high school star. He also ran five yards for a score.



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