NC Times: Meaningless game? Not to Broncos’ Lynch

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#GoIrish #Aztecs #SDGulls #Raiders #THFC #RipCity
Staff member
Jun 20, 2005
Chula Vista, CA
SAN DIEGO —- John Lynch rolled into his old stomping grounds like a cold December storm, darkening the skies and putting a damper on a once-bright year for the Chargers.

The Torrey Pines High grad was one of the most instrumental players in tossing mud on the Chargers’ hopes for a 10-win season as the Broncos rolled to a 23-7 victory on Saturday at a rain-soaked Qualcomm Stadium.

This game was about as meaningless as they come —- the Broncos had already clinched the AFC No. 2 seed in the playoffs, while the Chargers were already busy making January tee times. But it would have been hard to tell merely by watching Lynch.

The veteran free safety was all over the soggy field, forcing a pair of key fumbles on quarterback sacks that led to a touchdown and a safety for the Broncos.

“A lot of people talked about how this was a meaningless game,” Lynch said. “In my mind, every time you get the opportunity to play in the NFL, you owe it to yourself, to your team and to the people who pay to watch the game to go play hard.”

It would be unwise to expect anything less out of the gritty Lynch, known as one of the league’s hardest hitters and headiest players.

“I just love the way he plays,” said Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey. “I just knew coming in that 47 (Lynch’s jersey number) would be ready to play. Every time he lines up, I feel more confident in what we can do.”

Said Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan: “He’s a student of the game and he does everything he can to give himself the opportunity to play well —- and he did that today.”

Lynch, who was elected to his seventh Pro Bowl this season, made his presence known on a pair of blitzes that were near mirror images of one another.

In the second quarter, he nailed Chargers quarterback Drew Brees from the blindside in his own end zone as the Broncos came on an all-out blitz. In the third quarter, he came off the other end to drill quarterback Philip Rivers in his own end zone, jarring the ball free again.

It was a satisfying homecoming for Lynch, who noted that former Torrey Pines coach Rik Haines was on hand to watch him play.

Haines sure got a good show.Ý

“There is something special about playing where you grew up watching games,” said Lynch, smiling.