Lions QB Kitna said he returned from concussion thanks to ``miracle''

Updated: September 17, 2007, 6:03 PM ET
Associated Press

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit quarterback Jon Kitna expected people to snicker and laugh when they heard his explanation for his comeback against Minnesota after getting knocked out of the game with a concussion.

"It was a miracle," Kitna said Monday.

Kitna left the game in the second quarter, returned in the fourth and led the Lions to a 20-17 win over the Vikings in overtime on Sunday.

He said it was the third concussion of his NFL career, and the first since 2001. Kitna said he also had a concussion playing for Seattle against San Francisco in a 1997 preseason game.

"I've never felt anything like that, and for it to clear up and go right back to as normal as I can be, is nothing short of a miracle," Kitna said. "I just definitely feel the hand of God. That's all it was. You can't explain it.

"I have no headaches, no symptoms, no lingering effects. But that was the worst my head has ever felt, and the worse my memory was in the second quarter. Yet, after halftime there was nothing."

The NFL recently announced new guidelines on dealing with concussions, including creating a telephone hotline to make it easier to report when a player with a head injury is being forced to practice or play against medical advice.

Concussions have become an increasingly high priority for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and team officials in the past year.

"It's about players' safety, and it's good," Lions coach Rod Marinelli said.

Kitna said the team's medical staff followed proper procedures, evaluating him with several questions and by shining a light toward his eyes. The team cleared him to play in the third quarter and he came back in the fourth.

"They did exactly what they're supposed to do, and that's why I didn't push it very hard because I knew how touchy of a subject it is in the league right now," Kitna said. "Finally in the fourth quarter, basically I said, 'I don't have anything. I'm as clear as I was when the game started."

He was knocked out of the game in the second quarter and appeared to be out for the rest of the day, standing on the sideline without a helmet.

"I was out of it. I didn't know anything. I lost coherence," Kitna said. "It's one of those things, you shouldn't even been able to go back in the game, but it went back to normal and cleared up like it never happened."

After saying he knew who he was during the game, a reporter asked Kitna if he knew where he was.

"Barely," he said.

Kitna passed a follow-up examination Monday morning.

"He's fine," Marinelli said. "He didn't have any symptoms, no headaches."

Marinelli said it was up to the doctors -- who said Kitna had a "very, mild concussion -- to walk the fine line between listening to Kitna and protecting him.

"They were overly cautious and they went through everything they're supposed to do," Marinelli said. "Even when Jon wanted to come back, they held him down until they were convinced and felt good about it."

Kitna ran the ball twice on the final possession, taking even more hits, and led a game-winning drive when Detroit trailed or was tied for the third straight game, including a win last season at Dallas.

"It was a courageous effort," offensive tackle George Foster said.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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