NCTimes: Broncos' Lynch knows a big game when he sees it

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#GoIrish #Aztecs #SDGulls #Raiders #THFC #RipCity
Staff member
Jun 20, 2005
Chula Vista, CA

SAN DIEGO---- Being the cerebral Torrey Pines High grad that he is, Denver Broncos safety John Lynch knows that division titles are never won in Week 2.

But for a pair of teams coming off disappointing openers, the importance of Sunday's AFC West showdown between the Broncos and Chargers in Denver can hardly be discounted. The Broncos will not only be shooting for their first win of 2005, they must try to overcome the shock of a 34-10 blowout loss at the hands of the supposedly sad-sack Miami Dolphins.

The veteran Lynch has a pretty good idea of what's at stake.

"I think we expected better," he said of his team's performance in Miami. "Much like the Chargers, I think it puts more importance on this game. We just want to come out and play well, play the way we're capable of playing and get a win."

Getting a win would be huge for both teams. Starting off 0-2 would be a serious setback in one of the NFL's most competitive divisions.

"Obviously, if you're 0-2 you're behind the eight ball, but that doesn't mean it's the end of the season for you," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "But I think everyone considers AFC West games as big as it gets."

To beat the Chargers, the Broncos will have to turn in a markedly better performance than the Miami debacle, particularly on defense.

The Broncos allowed 275 passing yards and two scores to Gus Frerotte, a quarterback on his sixth team since 1998. Things will surely be more difficult against the Bolts and Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees.

Making matters worse, star cornerback Champ Bailey separated his left shoulder against the Dolphins and is listed as questionable.

Then there's the Antonio Gates factor. With the tight end's suspension lifted, the Broncos have the challenge of preparing for a game breaker.

"I'm sure had Antonio been there last week in that little sequence where Dallas got off the field with the interception at the end, Antonio would have gotten one, maybe two touches there," Lynch said. "He was obviously a big loss for them, and we have to be ready for a heavy dose of him."

The bad news for the Bolts is that the Broncos have done a pretty good job in the past of bottling up the team's two most potent weapons: Gates and running back LaDainian Tomlinson. Last season, Denver limited Gates to seven catches and 61 yards in two games, while Tomlinson was limited to a paltry 3.3 yards per carry.

How did they do it?

"We played our defense," Lynch said. "I think people get too caught up in creating schemes to slow down certain players. I think what we've always done well since I've been here in not tailoring the defense to certain players.

"There obviously is an emphasis in knowing that (Tomlinson) is a go-to player, but if we play it correctly, it will take care of itself."

On the other side of the ball, the Cowboys offered up a pretty good blueprint for success against the shaky Chargers secondary as Drew Bledsoe threw for an efficient 226 yards and three touchdown passes. Still, don't expect Shanahan, a coach who has cranked out five 1,000-yard backs during his Broncos tenure, to suddenly turn into Jerry Glanville.

"(The Chargers are) a good football team ---- you just can't go one direction or the other," said Shanahan, who was quick to point out the four interceptions the Bolts had against Jake Plummer last December.

"We've been a pretty balanced attack, and you've got to have people expect your running game."

CHARGERS NOTES ---- Coach Marty Schottenheimer said LB Shawne Merriman (knee) did not seem to have any problems during Wednesday's practice and there is a better than 50 percent chance that he will play Sunday. ... DE Igor Olshansky (thigh) was listed as doubtful on the team's injury report, and WR Vincent Jackson (Achilles' tendon/calf) is listed as questionable. Yet while Schottenheimer said Olshanky's status will be re-evaluated today, he called Jackson doubtful to play. ... The Bolts released CB Gabe Franklin from the practice squad and replaced him with TE Landon Trusty. DE Adell Duckett was released from injured reserve.