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Lions 27, Bengals 26

DETROIT (AP) -- Calvin Johnson shrugged his shoulders when asked about the only two passes thrown his way, both of which he caught, giving a glimpse of what's to come from the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft.

Johnson had two receptions for 45 yards late in the first half to set up a score and the Detroit Lions rallied late to beat the Cincinnati Bengals 27-26 on Thursday night in the exhibition opener for both teams.

The 6-foot-5, 239-pound receiver displayed his speed and savvy on his first catch, sprinting and settling into a spot behind a cornerback and in front of a safety. On the next play, Johnson used his body and leaping ability to shield first-round pick Leon Hall for a 21-yard reception that was the second and final ball thrown to him.

"That's my job -- go get the ball," he said. "People expect me to make plays."

Detroit has been expected to lose since 2001, when Matt Millen took over the franchise and the Lions went on to lose a league-high 72 games over the next six seasons.

But the players sense things will be different this year with Rod Marinelli on the sideline for a second season.

Cincinnati led 26-17 midway through the fourth quarter, then the Lions' third- and fourth-string players won out.

Dan Orlovsky threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Kasper with 50 seconds left after Detroit recovered an onside kick following Kenny Byrd's field goal.

Cincinnati got in position to win the game, stopping the clock with 1 second left, but Shayne Graham, who made four field goals, was wide left on a 48-yard attempt.

The Lions celebrated by jumping, hugging and screaming.

"Coach Marinelli came in here last year and preached winning, whether it was a 1-on-1 route in practice or a preseason game," Orlovsky said. "Losing is going to be wiped out as a culture around here.

"Cincinnati is a good team. I think it was really important that we won and showed excitement."

The Bengals, meanwhile, were not bummed out.

"You always want to win any game you play, but this doesn't hurt," Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis said. "We did a lot of good things when the veterans were in there. The young guys missed some chances to finish out the game."

If the score counted only when the starters were in the game, the Bengals would have won 6-0.

Carson Palmer completed seven of 10 passes for 93 yards to set up two field goals on his only two drives, totaling 121 yards. The Bengals held Detroit's first-string defense to just three first downs on its two possessions.

"We expect to score touchdowns every time we have the ball, so that's disappointing," Palmer said.

Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh each caught two of Palmer's passes, combining for 74 yards. Rudi Johnson ran through a huge hole for a 20-yard gain on the first play of the game and finished with five carries for 32 yards.

The Bengals might have lost his backup.

Rookie running back Kenny Irons injured his left knee and ankle and was taken to the locker room on a cart after hobbling off the field. He had four carries for 17 yards, including an 11-yard gain.

The second-round pick from Auburn was hurt when his foot appeared to get caught up in the artificial turf while making a stutter-step move. Lewis said Irons will have an MRI, adding there are concerns about his knee.

Jon Kitna was 3-for-5 for 52 yards, then his backups competed to be Detroit's No. 2 quarterback.

J.T. O'Sullivan was 12-of-19 for 225 yards, a score and an interception. Orlovsky completed 15 of 23 passes for 220 yards with two TDs and an interception that was returned for a score.

Rookie Matt Toeaina -- a 6-foot-2, 311-pound defensive tackle -- caught the fluttering football and rumbled 81 yards for a score that gave Cincinnati a 26-10 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Cincinnati's Chris Henry is suspended for the first eight games of the season for violating the NFL's conduct policies, but that didn't keep him off the field at Detroit. He caught six passes for 86 yards, including a 9-yard TD with 1:08 left the first half to give the Bengals a 16-7 lead.

"I think it is good that he gets to play in these games because it will remind him how special this is, and how much fun it is," Palmer said. "He knows he has a long way to go, and he's not feeling sorry for himself. He is going to pay for the bad choices he made, and he accepts that."

Game notes
Bengals DE Jonathan Fanene (muscle cramps) left the game in the third quarter, but Lewis said he will be fine. ... Lions DE Kalimba Edwards (shoulder) and RB Aveion Cason (concussion) were injured.