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 drived 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 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.
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 7-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 7-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.