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Atlanta at Detroit

Stafford debuts with TD, INT as Lions win preseason opener

CBSSports.com wire reports

DETROIT -- Matthew Stafford took his first snap as a pro and perfectly executed a play-action pass.

The problem: Keary Colbert dropped the ball.

Welcome to the Detroit Lions, kid.

Stafford threw a touchdown, an interception and had some passes dropped in his pro debut that Detroit rallied to win 27-26 over the Atlanta Falcons on Jason Hanson's 47-yard field goal as time expired.

"They're going to drop some balls just like I'm going to miss some," he said. "I was excited. I felt like I had a good day."

Stafford, the No. 1 pick of the NFL's first 0-16 team, completed half of his 14 passes for 114 yards.

  Rang: First impression on Stafford

He was pressured into making a poor pass, which was intercepted and returned by Tony Gilbert for a score. He responded by leading an 80-yard drive that ended with him looking left, throwing right and taking a hit on a 25-yard TD pass to fellow rookie Derrick Williams.

Detroit coach Jim Schwartz was impressed with how Stafford bounced back quickly after making a mistake.

Schwartz plans to start Stafford in the second exhibition game, but told reporters not to read into anything regarding the QB competition.

"They don't put preseason games on your tombstone or your resume," Schwartz said.

Detroit's Daunte Culpepper was 5 of 6 for 41 yards and moved around enough to show he's healthy after a knee injury stunted his career.

  Microphone issues during anthem

"I feel like I've finally gotten back to the player I want to be," he said.

The Falcons, meanwhile, just hope Matt Ryan and Michael Turner perform as they did last year for them and 10-time Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez and veteran linebacker Mike Peterson prove to be valuable additions.

In limited chances, each looked good.

Ryan was 5 of 7 for 33 yards. Turner ran for a 40-yard TD. Gonzalez caught a pass to convert a third down on the opening drive. Peterson had a team-high three tackles in the first quarter.

"We just didn't get the outcome that we wanted," coach Mike Smith said. "But I think there were some good things, some bad things and some ugly things."

The Lions scratched 16 players, including six projected starters and two of the team's top three picks, from the lineup with injuries. Schwartz said about half of those players would've played if it was the regular season.

Culpepper and Stafford didn't have any of their top three receivers, including Calvin Johnson, and were without first-round tight end Brandon Pettigrew.

That created opportunities and Colbert failed to take advantage, dropping three of Stafford's passes.

"I feel like I could have made every one of those plays," Colbert said. "That would have made his day look better from the outside, but he had a good day anyway."

Ryan is clearly the man under center for Atlanta after being drafted No. 3 overall, starting every game last season, becoming Offensive Rookie of the Year and leading the team to the playoffs.

"We were a little bit rusty," he said. "But that's what the preseason is for."

Turner, who also had a lot to do with Atlanta's surprising season, had 63 yards rushing on six carries and ran into a hole and through a couple defenders on a long TD that put Atlanta ahead 7-3.

"It always feels good to get back into the groove of things," he said.

Detroit took an early lead on Hanson's field goal. Sixth-round pick Aaron Brown gave the Lions a chance to go ahead again with a 32-yard run for a score in the third period and a 45-yard TD reception with 2:05 left, when he was flagged for celebrating with a flip.

"I don't have the size," the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Brown said. "But I make up for it with speed."

The Lions got the ball back with no timeouts at their 27 with 1:36 remainder and third-string quarterback Drew Stanton ran for 18 yards to set up Hanson's winning kick.

"I got goosebumps when Jason hit that," Schwartz said after his first game as a head coach at any level.


  • Falcons CB Chris Houston (hamstring), DE Kroy Biermann (foot) and Lions LB Cody Spencer (knee) were injured during the game.
  • Detroit is wearing "93" and "RS" decals on the back of its helmets this season, honoring former DT Corey Smith and director of security Ricky Sandoval, both of whom died earlier this year. Smith died in a boating accident in the Gulf of Mexico. and Sandoval passed away after a three-plus year battle with cancer.
Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Matthew Stafford goes 7 for 14 for 114 yards, but is not helped by some drops.  (US Presswire)
Matthew Stafford goes 7 for 14 for 114 yards, but is not helped by some drops. (US Presswire)


Related Video

Sat. Aug. 15Final
ATL - Pass: M. Ryan (5-7, 33), Rush: M. Turner (6-63)
DET - Pass: M. Stafford (7-14, 114), Rush: D. Stanton (4-59)
Scoring Summary
FGJason Hanson 26 Yd, 5:33. Drive: 11 plays, 50 yards in 6:01.
TDMichael Turner, 40 Yd run (Jason Elam kick is good), 1:50. Drive: 7 plays, 77 yards in 3:43.
FGJason Elam 46 Yd, 6:38. Drive: 7 plays, 18 yards in 2:43.
TDTony Gilbert, 42 Yd interception return (Jason Elam kick Failed), 13:26.
TDDerrick Williams, 25 Yd pass from Matthew Stafford (Jason Hanson kick is good), 8:44. Drive: 9 plays, 80 yards in 4:42.
TDJason Snelling, 1 Yd run (Jason Elam kick is good), 7:24. Drive: 4 plays, 67 yards in 1:20.
TDAaron Brown, 32 Yd run (Jason Hanson kick is good), 3:14. Drive: 8 plays, 80 yards in 4:10.
FGJason Elam 41 Yd, 2:55. Drive: 9 plays, 31 yards in 5:05.
TDAaron Brown, 45 Yd pass from Drew Stanton (Jason Hanson kick is good), 2:05. Drive: 4 plays, 84 yards in 0:50.
FGJason Hanson 47 Yd, 0:00. Drive: 9 plays, 44 yards in 1:36.
M. Ryan5/73300
D. Shockley3/83100
C. Redman5/92900
J. Wilson3/32200
M. Turner663140
J. Norwood62609
T. Brown111909
J. Snelling3413
J. Wilson1101
R. White1000
R. White329012
E. Weems225015
M. Booker21108
V. Haynes111011
B. Finneran1707
T. Gonzalez1707
A. Kelly1707
T. Brown1606
K. Zinger1404
J. Norwood1303
J. Peelle1303
M. Jenkins1202
M. Stafford7/1411411
D. Stanton8/1311410
D. Culpepper5/64100
D. Stanton459027
A. Brown647132
A. Ervin924015
A. Cason82308
D. Culpepper31208
K. Smith31200
A. Jennings1909
M. Stafford1505
A. Brown251145
D. Williams235125
A. Ervin234022
K. Colbert128028
K. Smith22700
C. Butler124024
E. Fowler121021
D. Boldin21609
W. Heller2805
J. Felton1707
A. Cason1505
D. Gronkowski1303
T. Smith1202
Complete Player Stats
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CAR 17 Final
NYG 24
JAC 9 Final
MIA 12
SEA 20 Final
SD 14
TB 20 Final
TEN 27
HOU 16 Final
KC 10
CLE 0 Final
GB 17
CHI 20 Final
BUF 27
DEN 16 Final
SF 17
CIN 7 Final
NO 17
MIN 13 Final
STL 23 Final
NYJ 20
DAL 10 Final
OAK 31
ARI 10 Final
PIT 20
NE 27 Final
PHI 25
WAS 0 Final
BAL 23