Even more exciting to Lions fans than the team's 27-26 exhibition win over Atlanta should be the individual play of several rookies.
The Lions, lifted to victory by Jason Hanson's 47-yard field goal as time expired, were fueled by the performances of first-year players Matthew Stafford, running back Aaron Brown, and receiver Derrick Williams.
Trailing 13-3 early in the second half, Stafford shrugged off an interception that was returned for a touchdown by engineering a 9-play, 80-yard drive on the following series.
Facing a 2nd and 10, Stafford looked off an Atlanta defensive back before dropping a pass into Williams' hands for a 25-yard score.
Just two plays earlier, Stafford had dragged Atlanta defensive tackle Thomas Johnson five-yards on third down, keeping the drive alive. He finished 7 of 14 with 114 yards, along with a quarterback rating of 71.7.
Stafford was also plagued by many drops, with the culprit being veteran Keary Colbert.
Williams, the former speedster out of Penn State, saw increased playing time due to the absence of starters Calvin Johnson, Bryant Johnson, and Dennis Northcutt. They were also without first-round pick Brandon Pettigrew (thigh), who was held out for precautionary reasons.
Williams' two receptions amounted to 35 yards, and his lone kick-off return yielded a game-high 28 yards.
The night, however, might have belonged to sixth-round pick and Texas Christian product Aaron Brown. Despite being penalized on a punt earlier in the contest, Brown responded with a 32-yard touchdown run in the third-quarter which involved an obscene cutback.
In the fourth quarter, Brown took a Drew Stanton pass 45 yards for his second score of the evening, closing the gap to 26-24. He finished the play with a back-flip in the end zone, drawing rave reviews from the crowd and an unsportsmanlike conduct from the officials.
Brown tallied 145 total yards of offense, including an average of 7.8 yards per carry.
Lions rookie RB Aaron Brown celebrates a touchdown with a penalty-raising back flip.