Lions Spoil Holmgren's Debut, 28-20
By Jim Cour
The Lions got three touchdown passes from Charlie Batch in the first half and spoiled Mike Holmgren's debut in Seattle with a 28-20 victory over the Seahawks on Sunday.
Playing for the first time in 11 seasons without the retired Sanders, Detroit also had to play most of the game without star receiver Herman Moore. He was injured in the first quarter and could not continue, snapping his streak of 107 straight games with a reception.
Batch threw TD passes of 16 yards and 41 yards to second-year receiver Germane Crowell and 5 yards to David Sloan in the second quarter, when the Lions scored 22 points.
Sanders, 31, stepped away from the NFL this summer needing only 1,458 yards to overtake Walter Payton as the career rushing leader. The Lions were 5-11 with him last season and they played like they had something to prove in their opener.
Batch, in his second season, completed 16 of 26 passes for 216 for three touchdowns with one interception. Crowell had his first 100-yard receiving day, catching seven passes for 141 yards and two scores.
Seattle received a scare late in the first half when its Pro Bowl outside linebacker, Chad Brown, had to leave the field in an ambulance with a neck injury. He was taken to Harborview Hospital for X-rays, and the Seahawks said all neurological signs were positive.
A red-faced Holmgren watched with his arms folded as Seattle struggled against the Lions' defense until late in the third quarter.
Jon Kitna threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Sean Dawkins with 3:29 left in the third period and found Dawkins with a 3-yard TD pass with 7:11 left to cut Detroit's lead to 25-20.
The Lions then took the ball and drove it to the Seattle 31 before Jason Hanson kicked his second field goal, a 49-yarder, with 2:10 left to give his team an eight-point lead.
It was a disappointing start for Holmgren, who is trying to turn around a Seattle franchise that hasn't made the playoffs since 1988. He jumped from Green Bay to the Seahawks in January, signing a $32 million, eight-year contract that made him the highest paid coach in the NFL.
The Seahawks' first touchdown came on a 40-yard interception return by cornerback Willie Williams in the second quarter.
Seattle killed itself with mistakes in the first half, when the Lions took a 25-7 lead.
A fumble by Dawkins that was recovered by Mark Carrier at the Seattle 32 set up a 51-yard field goal by Hanson with 2:54 gone.
Detroit's second TD, the 5-yarder from Batch to Sloan, came after rookie punt returner Charlie Rogers and the Lions' Brock Olivo recovered at the Seattle 5. The Lions made it 16-0 two plays later with 4:34 gone in the second period.
Detroit made it 18-0 58 seconds later when Deems May centered the ball over the head of punter Jeff Feagles deep in the end zone.
Moore sprained his left knee when he fell awkwardly after being hit by guard Tony Semple.
© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press