Jon Kitna played college football at Central Washington University and upon graduation was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Seattle Seahawks. He spent his first year in pro football with the Barcelona Dragons of the World League of American Football and was even named the league’s MVP. He got his chance to be with the Seahawks in 1997 as the backup to future Hall of Famer Warren Moon. During that season, his rookie year, he did get a chance to start one game.
Here is a look at Jon Kitna’s first start ever in the National Football League.
The Seahawks were 6-8 and on the road in Oakland to play the 4-10 Raiders. This was the 15th game of the season for two teams that were not going to the playoffs. From a league perspective, the game was virtually meaningless. For Jon Kitna though, it was his first chance at being a starting quarterback in the NFL.
The Raiders jumped out to a 14-0 lead by the end of the first quarter, thanks to two Jeff George touchdown passes, the first to Olanda Truitt and the second to James Jett. Seattle got on the scoreboard in the second quarter with a 27 yard field goal by Todd Peterson, but a third touchdown pass by George, this time to tight end Rickey Dudley, made the score 21-3 at halftime.
Kitna and the Seahawks came out of the half with a renewed sense of vigor, and made the score 21-12 at the end of the third quarter, thanks to an eight yard touchdown pass by the quarterback to wide receiver Joey Galloway and another 27 yard field goal by Todd Peterson. In the fourth quarter, Kitna would lead the team downfield and running back Chris Warren would run one into the end zone from nine yards out. Todd Peterson would then add a late 49 yard field goal to secure Kitna’s first come from behind victory as a starter, and first win as a starting quarterback in the league too, by the score of 22-21. The game may have been meaningless, but Kitna helped the Seahawks overcome a 21-3 halftime deficit and proved that he had what it takes to play in the NFL.
Kitna would eventually move on to play for the Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, and Dallas Cowboys. But he can always look back to that great comeback victory in 1997 as an awesome performance in his first start ever in the NFL.