Bucs' natives catch Chargers
This time it was a Fail Mary for the San Diego Chargers. A week after turning around a game and nearly the Chargers' season with a desperation heave before halftime against the Lions, quarterback Stan Humphries was no match for the Bucs secondary Sunday. Safety John Lynch, rookie Donnie Abraham and veteran Charles Dimry intercepted Humphries, providing the key turnovers that led directly to the Bucs' 10 points in the fourth quarter.
Both Lynch and Dimry are San Diego natives and were represented by plenty of friends and family members at Jack Murphy Stadium.
About 40 of them were seated in club seats near the north end zone with a banner that read "Lynch Mob" hung from the facade.
"I'd never played at Jack Murphy Stadium," Lynch said. "I was never good enough to take my high school team to the championship and that's when you get here. My brother gives me a hard time because he took his team here. So I finally got to come back here. So did Charles. He played his butt off. There was a lot of connections to San Diego. I haven't been this nervous for a game. I went out there in pregame and my legs were just shot because I think my adrenaline rush hit about four hours early. I tried everything just to chill out, and finally after playing a little, I got to settle down."
Lynch led the Bucs with five tackles and was a key run-stopper that limited the Chargers to 94 yards on the ground.
But all week long, the Bucs had talked about producing more turnovers. They entered the game tied for 25th in the NFL with just 14 turnovers, including only seven interceptions.
Lynch was as surprised as anyone when Humphries overthrew tight end Brian Roche, but not surprised enough to drop the ball. He returned the interception 25 yards to the San Diego 18 to set up the Bucs' go-ahead TD.
"I thought this is Christmas," said Lynch. "Occasionally you get those kind of throws, and you don't give them back. We did a good job of stopping the run, and our defensive line put on great pressure. We did a good job of mixing the blitz in and then the second half we just beat them with a straight four-man rush."
Having such a big game in front of the hometown crowd was a special kick for Lynch. "I had the troops out in force and that was fun. They were sitting where we've been sitting every Sunday growing up. I'm a Charger fan, so this is extra special for me. I never got to come here in college. People out here haven't got to see what I've been doing for four years. It was nice to come back and show them. Now they know what Tampa Bay is going to be all about. We're 3-8 and when you look at it, it's not all that great. But I think everyone in Tampa knows what we've been through this year. This is a big win, and this (San Diego) was a good team. They're no slacker."
Rick Stroud, The St.Petersburg Times 1996