Heart of a Lion: Kitna propels Detroit

Jon Kitna (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

In one of the more gutty performances in team history, Detroit Lions quarterback Jon Kitna shrugged off a concussion suffered early in the contest to help lift Detroit to a 20-17 overtime victory over Minnesota.

No one will ever replace Steve Yzerman as the city of Detroit's sports hero.

But for one afternoon, at least, Lions' quarterback Jon Kitna ingrained himself in Motown sports lore.

In one of the more gutty performances in team history, Kitna shrugged off a concussion suffered early in the contest to help lift Detroit to a 20-17 overtime victory over Minnesota.

The win handed the Lions its first 2-0 start since 2004. Kitna finished 22-of-33, with 245 yards and a touchdown but missed the bulk of the game.

Detroit's divisional win hands the team sole possession of first place in the NFC North division. It also snapped a 10-game losing skid to the Vikings, and the franchise's first over the purple-clad crew since moving into Ford Field four years ago.

Kitna, who was hit in his back the previous play, departed the game after rifling a touchdown pass to Roy Williams to give the Lions a 7-0 lead.

However, with Kitna sidelined and the rather untested J.T. O'Sullivan behind center, Detroit's offense struggled mightily. O'Sullivan managed to put the Lions up 17-7 after a touchdown pass to rookie Calvin Johnson early in the third quarter, but tossed two interceptions and his fumble later in the period was returned by Vikings' defensive lineman Ray Edwards for a score.

The contest was checkered with turnovers, a combined 10 mishaps between the two teams. Three of Detroit's five occurred with Kitna on the sideline.

As the two team's helped portray one of the season's ugliest games to date, Kitna lobbied offensive coordinator Mike Martz -- and the team's medical staff -- to let him back onto the field.

Once he was given approval, Kitna trotted back on during the final period.

Immediately upon his re-arrival, Kitna wasted no time making an impact. The veteran signal caller scrambled for 16 yards on two plays in the overtime period, including a play where he went air-born and landed on his throwing arm.

Detroit's defense was also effective, forcing five turnovers -- including four interceptions. They also limited standout Vikings' tailback Adrian Peterson to just 66 yards on 20 carries.

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