Stafford throws 2 TDs and Lions beat Bengals 34-3

DETROIT (AP) - Matthew Stafford threw touchdown passes on his two drives and the Detroit Lions went on to beat the Cincinnati Bengals 34-3 Friday night.

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.

Bengals QB Andy Dalton was hit by Ndamukong Sung after taking his first NFL snap and Chris Houston intercepted the underthrown pass. The second-round pick finished 11 of 15 for 69 yards. He put Cincinnati in a position to attempt two field goals and Mike Nugent made one to make it 14-3.

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, and a 7-yard score to Nate Burleson on an overturned play.

From the start, everything went well for Detroit and poorly for the Bengals.

Stafford connected on each of his first four passes on the opening series, including his lofted pass to a leaping Johnson against overmatched cornerback Leon Hall.

Johnson was sitting on the bench on the next drive, but it wasn't clear whether he was injured or simply resting for the regular season.

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 7-yard, fourth-down pass to Burleson on a play ruled incomplete on the field. It became a TD after video review showed he completed the catch against Hall on the side of the end zone.

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 perhaps an upcoming fine from the league.

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 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.

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, the No. 1 overall pick in 2009, was healthy enough to play in just three games last year and 10 as a rookie.

He 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.

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

Detroit's third-string QB Drew Stanton led a 2-minute 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 early in the fourth quarter.

 


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