John Lynch played 236 NFL games, including playoffs. He had nearly 1,300 tackles to go along with 26 interceptions, 16 forced fumbles, 100 passes defensed and more snot-knocking hits than can be counted. Trying to pick out his five best moments is like trying to pick out the five best trees in a forest. But we'll give it a shot and look back at five memorable Lynch moments.
I'll tell your sister you said hello
Lynch didn't care who you were: If you had the ball, you were going to be hit. He proved that in a 1997 game when he nearly knocked out Bears tight end John Allred. It just so happened that Allred was Lynch's brother-in-law. Lynch married the guy's sister. Geez, bad enough that you're with the guy's sister, but then you knock him to Daffy Island, too? That's cold, baby.
Hey, Barry, I'm John
In a 1997 NFC wild-card playoff game at old Houlihan's Stadium, Lions sensation and Bucs-killer Barry Sanders took a handoff and cut back at the line of scrimmage. It was the type of cutback that usually led to one of those patented long touchdown runs. But this time, Lynch, whom coach Tony Dungy said had probably seen this play on film 100 times, was waiting and delivered a bone-jarring hit, knocking Sanders straight to the ground. Later, Sanders told Lynch it was the hardest he had ever been hit while carrying a football.
His biggest pick
In a 1999 division playoff game, this time at Raymond James Stadium, the Bucs seemed lifeless and hopeless as they trailed the Redskins 13-0 late in the third quarter. They needed a spark and Lynch gave it to them by intercepting a Brad Johnson pass. The pick gave the Bucs momentum, and they rallied for two touchdowns and a 14-13 victory.
While with the Broncos on Christmas Eve 2006, Lynch delivered one of the most devastating hits in a career full of devastating hits. With the ball at the Broncos 18, Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer threw a fade to wide receiver Chris Henry. Just as Henry made what appeared to be a catch at the goal line, Lynch came flying out of nowhere and Henry looked as if he were being blown apart, with arms and legs going in all directions. And the ball? It fell harmlessly to the ground as Henry appeared to be struggling to remember what planet he was on.
In a 2005 game against the Colts, Lynch laid out tight end Dallas Clark to send a message for an upcoming playoff game: come my way, and you'll pay. Well, it was Lynch who had to pay when he was fined $75,000 for what the league called a "helmet-to-helmet" hit that left Clark with a concussion. He got a letter from the NFL, too, telling him he was being watched, to which an angry Lynch responded, "If you make the highlights these days, you're going to get fined. That's pretty much what it comes down to."