American Football Database
1999 Detroit Lions season
Head Coach Bobby Ross
General Manager Chuck Schmidt
Home Field Pontiac Silverdome
Record 8–8
Place 3rd NFC Central
Playoff Finish Lost Wild Card Playoffs (Redskins) 27–13
Pro Bowlers
Previous season Next season
1998 2000

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

1999 Detroit Lions draft
Round Pick Player Position College Notes
1 9 Chris Claiborne  Linebacker USC
1 27 Aaron Gibson  Tackle Wisconsin from San Francisco via Miami
3 70 Jared DeVries  Defensive end Iowa from Detroit via Miami
      Made roster    *   Made at least one Pro Bowl during career



1999 Detroit Lions staff
Front office
  • Chairman and President – William Clay Ford, Sr.
  • Vice Chairman – William Clay Ford, Jr.
  • Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer – Chuck Schmidt
  • Vice President of Player Personnel – Ron Hughes
  • Vice President of Football Administration – Larry Lee
  • Vice President of Stadium Development and Salary Cap – Tom Lewand
  • Director of Pro Scouting – Kevin Colbert

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 roster

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen


Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists

Practice squad

Rookies in italics
53 Active, 3 Inactive, 4 Practice squad

Regular season

Template:Cleanup rewrite 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 TV Attendance
1 September 12, 1999 at Seattle Seahawks W 28–20 FOX
2 September 19, 1999 Green Bay Packers W 23–15 FOX
3 September 26, 1999 at Kansas City Chiefs L 31–21 FOX
4 Bye
5 October 10, 1999 San Diego Chargers L 20–10 CBS
6 October 17, 1999 Minnesota Vikings W 25–23 FOX
7 October 24, 1999 at Carolina Panthers W 24–9 FOX
8 October 31, 1999 Tampa Bay Buccaneers W 20–3 ESPN
9 November 7, 1999 St. Louis Rams W 31–27 FOX
10 November 14, 1999 at Arizona Cardinals L 23–19 FOX
11 November 21, 1999 at Green Bay Packers L 26–17 FOX
12 November 25, 1999 Chicago Bears W 21–17 FOX
13 December 5, 1999 Washington Redskins W 33–17 FOX
14 December 12, 1999 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers L 23–16 FOX
15 December 19, 1999 at Chicago Bears L 28–10 FOX
16 December 25, 1999 Denver Broncos L 17–7 CBS
17 January 2, 2000 at Minnesota Vikings L 24–17 FOX


Template:1999 NFC Central standings


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

NFC Wild Card Game: At Washington Redskins

NFC Wild Card Game: Detroit Lions at Washington Redskins – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Lions 0 0 0 13


Redskins 14 13 0 0


at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, Washington D.C.

Game information

First quarter

  • WAS – Stephen Davis 1 yard rush (Brett Conway kick). Redskins 7–0
  • WAS – Stephen Davis 4 yard rush (Brett Conway kick). Redskins 14–0

Second quarter

  • WAS – Brett Conway 33 yard field goal. Redskins 17–0
  • WAS – Brett Conway 23 yard field goal. Redskins 20–0
  • WAS – Albert Connell 30 yard pass from Brad Johnson (Brett Conway kick). Redskins 27–0

Third quarter

  • No scoring plays

Fourth quarter

  • DET – Ron Rice 94 yard blocked field goal return (2 point conversion failed) Redskins 27–6
  • DET – Ron Rivers 5 yard pass from Gus Frerotte (Jason Hanson kick). Redskins 27–13


  • DET – 2
  • WAS – 0


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