He was better than the stats, though. If not for Keary Colbert, in fact, the stats would match the performance.
Three of Stafford's seven incompletions can be pinned directly on Colbert, who might find a pink slip in his locker soon. On Stafford's first snap after replacing starter Daunte Culpepper, he faked a handoff inside, rolled right and threw a perfect strike 20 yards downfield to Colbert, who let the ball go through his hands -- something that was a recurring theme on Saturday.
Later in that first drive, while under pressure on a third-down play, Stafford stepped up and fired a bullet underneath to Colbert, just past the first-down marker. Colbert dropped it.
Colbert finally hauled one in, a 28-yard strike from Stafford on a deep route between two defenders, but then promptly dropped another pass two plays later.
After halftime, Stafford opted to look for a capable receiver, finding Penn State rookie Derrick Williams for a 25-yard touchdown. That strike might have been Stafford's best toss of the day. He stepped up in the pocker, took a huge hit as he released the ball, and still dropped a perfect spiral to Williams on a corner route.
The TD toss to Williams came one possession after Stafford's most glaring mistake, an interception that turned into a pick-six.
On a third-and-6, Stafford tried to force a pass into coverage, but Falcons linebacker Tony GIlbert swiped it and took it to the house. One of the knocks on Stafford going into the draft was that he often makes poor decisions because he thinks his powerful arm will save him (aka: The "Favre"), and the turnover was a bit a case of that.
Other than that, though, the reviews will be pretty positive for Stafford's debut. And they ought to be pretty solid for Culpepper, as well. Looking much leaner and more physically fit than when Detroit signed him midseason in 2008, Culpepper completed 5-of-6 passes for 41 yards. Maybe more importantly for the Lions, he also scrambled out of trouble multiple times, his best effort being an 8-yard juking scramble in the red zone.
The Lions know better than anyone not to put too much stock in preseason numbers -- they did go 4-0 last year, after all, before an 0-16 regular season. Still, Detroit's top two QBs played well, and that's especially encouraging for Stafford.
Making the day better: Detroit, behind third-string QB Drew Stanton, scored 10 points in the final 2:15 to beat Atlanta 27-26.