Recalling Kitna's Concussive Win

The last time the Lions faced the Vikings, Jon Kitna called a recovery from a concussion a miracle, as Detroit won 20-17 in overtime. It led to a rare Lions victory over the Vikings.

The Lions have lost three games in a row. They have badly damaged their playoff chances. And Sunday they play at Minnesota, where they have lost nine consecutive games.

The last time the Lions won at the Metrodome, it was Dec. 14, 1997. They won by one point, 14-13. They lost three in a row there before that.

The Lions did beat the Vikings at home in Week 2. But they needed a miracle to do it.

Early in the second quarter, quarterback Jon Kitna threw a pass to running back Brian Calhoun. Just after he released the ball, he was hit from behind, then from the front.

Kitna stayed in for four more plays, and he even threaded a ball through three defenders for a nine-yard touchdown to wide receiver Roy Williams. But something was wrong.

Coach Rod Marinelli said the medical staff called it a "very mild concussion." Kitna, who said he had three concussions in the past, said: "That was the worst my head's ever felt and the worst my memory was in the second quarter."

"I was out of it," Kitna said. "I didn't know anything."

Kitna left the game. He said his symptoms cleared completely by halftime, however. He told offensive coordinator Mike Martz he could play in the third quarter. Martz told him to talk to the medical staff. Kitna went to the medical staff in the fourth quarter and got cleared. He returned with the game tied at 17.

"It was a miracle," Kitna said. "I should not have played in the rest of the game. Yet, my head cleared up, and it went to a point where there was nothing. So it's almost as if it didn't happen."

Lions kicker Jason Hanson missed a 48-yard field-goal attempt wide left with 45 seconds to go. Then the Vikings' Ryan Longwell attempted a 52-yarder - and hit the left upright with two seconds left.

The Vikings won the coin toss. But then they lost their quarterback, Tarvaris Jackson, to a groin injury. And then their backup, Brooks Bollinger, lost the ball.

The Lions took over at the 50. On the first play, Kitna threw a pass to himself. He tried to pass to Shaun McDonald, but the ball was batted. It bounced back to him. He grabbed it, ran to the right, took a hit and flew through the air for a nine-yard gain.

Two plays later, he scrambled six yards for a first down. Then Calhoun broke a 17-yard run to the Minnesota 19, and enough was enough. Hanson kicked a 37-yarder, and the Lions won, 20-17.

"You guys will probably snicker and laugh and have a good time with this, but it's a miracle," Kitna said the next day. "That's really what it is. You can call it whatever it is, whatever the official diagnosis of it, whatever it was. But I've never felt anything like that, and then for it to clear up and go right back to as normal as I can be, is nothing short of a miracle in my life. I just definitely feel the hand of God."


  • P Nick Harris is coming off his worst game of the season. He had two touchbacks and no punts downed inside the 20 on Thanksgiving Day against Green Bay. He had only two touchbacks over the first 10 games this season.

  • WR Roy Williams had only three catches for 32 yards against the Packers. It was the seventh time in 11 games he has been held to 53 yards or less.

  • QB Jon Kitna has eight touchdowns, four turnovers and 17 sacks in the Lions' six victories. He has six touchdowns, 13 turnovers and 27 sacks in their five losses.

  • DT Cory Redding has no sacks this season, after racking up eight sacks over the last 11 games last season and being designated the Lions' franchise player.

  • KR Aveion Cason recorded the Lions' longest return of the season against the Packers, when he ran a kickoff back 74 yards.

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