DETROIT - If the opening moments of an exhibition game are any indication, the Detroit Lions might just live up to the hype.
In Friday's preseason opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Lions didn't waste any time establishing their dominance, scoring two touchdowns in the first five minutes en route to a 34-3 win.
Seeing his first game action since the middle of last season, quarterback Matthew Stafford showed no ill effects from off-season surgery to his throwing arm. Stafford completed 6 of 7 passes for 72 yards, including the team's first two scores. The third-year quarterback culminated the team's initial drive with a 26-yard strike to Calvin Johnson in the end zone.
After a Cincinnati turnover, Stafford found receiver Nate Burleson for another score.
The quick start by the Lions wasn't entirely unexpected. They're a dark horse playoff team by many analysts, with explosive players on each side of the ball.
"I think we're pretty exciting to watch when all the pieces are together," Stafford told the Associated Press after the game.
Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, last year's defensive rookie of the year, made an impression almost immediately. He trounced Bengals' rookie quarterback Andy Dalton on Cincinnati's first play of the contest, leading to defensive back Chris Houston's interception. Suh's aggressive handling of Dalton drew a penalty, and might also evoke a fine.
Dalton, starting in place of the retired Carson Palmer, finished the contest 11 of 15 for 69 yards.
Detroit employed a running back-by-committee approach in the game, but managed just 70 yards on 33 carries.
The team will travel to Cleveland to play the Browns next Friday. Kick-off is slated for 7:30 p.m. (ET).