1999 Detroit Lions season

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1999 Detroit Lions season
OwnerWilliam Clay Ford, Sr.
Head coachBobby Ross
General managerChuck Schmidt
Home fieldPontiac Silverdome
Division place3rd NFC Central
Playoff finishLost Wild Card Playoffs (at Redskins) 27–13
Pro Bowlers

The 1999 Detroit Lions season was their 70th in the league. The team improved upon their previous season's output of 5–11 and qualified for the playoffs, with a .500 record at 8–8. It would be their sixth playoff appearance of the decade, capping one of the most successful 10-year stretches in franchise history.

In 2004, Football Outsiders’ Mike Tanier named the 1999 Lions as one of the “worst playoff teams ever”:[1]

The Lions had just lost Barry Sanders to an abrupt retirement and started the season with second-year pro Charlie Batch at quarterback before he was lost to an injury and replaced by Gus Frerotte.

The team got out to a 6–2 start, including a win over the eventual Super Bowl Champion St. Louis Rams, that made the Lions a surprise contender at the midway point in the season. After topping out at 8–4, however, the Lions collapsed and lost their final four games.


NFL Draft[edit]

1999 Detroit Lions draft
Round Pick Player Position College Notes
1 9 Chris Claiborne  LB USC
1 27 Aaron Gibson  OT Wisconsin from Miami
3 70 Jared DeVries  DE Iowa from Miami
4 103 Sedrick Irvin  RB Michigan State
5 137 Tyree Talton  S Northern Iowa from Philadelphia
6 177 Clint Kriewaldt  LB Wisconsin-Stevens Point
7 215 Mike Pringley  DE North Carolina
      Made roster    *   Made at least one Pro Bowl during career


  • Detroit traded up from its second-round selection (39th) with Miami, receiving Miami's first-round selection (27th), which they had received from San Francisco, in return for Detroit's third- and fifth-round selections (70th and 142nd).
  • Detroit traded up from a third-round selection (72nd) received from Baltimore as part of the trade of QB Scott Mitchell with Miami to the 70th pick, giving up a seventh-round selection (232nd) in return. Detroit had received the 232nd pick from Green Bay in exchange for RB Glyn Milburn.
  • Detroit traded its fourth-round selection in 2000 to Philadelphia in exchange for the Eagles' fourth-round selection (137th).



1999 Detroit Lions staff
Front office

Head coaches

Offensive coaches

  • Offensive Coordinator – Sylvester Croom
  • Quarterbacks – Jim Zorn
  • Running Backs – Frank Falks
  • Wide Receivers – Jerry Sullivan
  • Tight Ends – Danny Smith
  • Offensive Line – Jack Henry
  • Offensive Assistant – Stan Kwan
  • Quality Control–Offense/Administrative Assistant – John Misciagna
Defensive coaches
  • Defensive Coordinator – Larry Peccatiello
  • Defensive Line – Brian Baker
  • Linebackers – Gary Moeller
  • Defensive Backs – Richard Selcer
  • Defensive Assistant – Don Clemons
  • Quality Control–Defense – Dennis Murphy

Special teams coaches

  • Special Teams – Chuck Priefer
  • Special Teams Assistant – Stan Kwan

Strength and conditioning

  • Strength and Conditioning – Bert Hill
  • Assistant Strength and Conditioning – Rob Graf


1999 Detroit Lions final roster

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen


Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists

Practice squad

Rookies in italics
active, inactive, practice squad

Regular season[edit]

The season had an inauspicious beginning as future Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders suddenly retired on the eve of training camp. Undaunted, coach Bobby Ross led the Lions to a fast start, highlighted by a Week 9 win over the then 6–1 St. Louis Rams.

The following week, Ross made a questionable decision to go for a failed two-point conversion after a touchdown against Arizona. The game ended with Detroit trailing by four points in the red zone trying to score a game-winning touchdown. The Lions would lose at Green Bay the following week, but defeat Chicago at home to get back on track.

The following week, the Lions picked up the franchise's first win vs. Washington since 1965, putting the team at an 8–4 and in sole possession of the second seed in the NFC. However, the Lions collapsed down the stretch and lost their last four regular season games to finish 8–8.

Two other NFC teams—the Packers and Carolina Panthers—finished 8–8, but the Lions beat the Panthers 24–9 in Week 7 and they held the conference record tiebreaker over the Packers, thus allowing Detroit to make the playoffs as the sixth seed despite losing their final four games.

This would be the Lions' last playoff appearance until the 2011 season.


Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
1 September 12 at Seattle Seahawks W 28–20
2 September 19 Green Bay Packers W 23–15
3 September 26 at Kansas City Chiefs L 31–21
4 Bye
5 October 10 San Diego Chargers L 20–10
6 October 17 Minnesota Vikings W 25–23
7 October 24 at Carolina Panthers W 24–9
8 October 31 Tampa Bay Buccaneers W 20–3
9 November 7 St. Louis Rams W 31–27
10 November 14 at Arizona Cardinals L 23–19
11 November 21 at Green Bay Packers L 26–17
12 November 25 Chicago Bears W 21–17
13 December 5 Washington Redskins W 33–17
14 December 12 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers L 23–16
15 December 19 at Chicago Bears L 28–10
16 December 25 Denver Broncos L 17–7
17 January 2 at Minnesota VIkings L 24–17


NFC Central
(2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers 11 5 0 .688 270 235 W2
(4) Minnesota Vikings 10 6 0 .625 399 335 W3
(6) Detroit Lions 8 8 0 .500 322 323 L4
Green Bay Packers 8 8 0 .500 357 341 W1
Chicago Bears 6 10 0 .375 272 341 L2


Week Date Opponent Result
Wild Card January 8, 2000 at Washington Redskins L 27–13

NFC Wild Card Game: At Washington Redskins[edit]

NFC Wild Card Game: Detroit Lions at Washington Redskins – Game summary
1 2 34Total
Lions 0 0 01313
Redskins 14 13 0027

at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, Washington D.C.

Game information


External links[edit]