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How Anthony Lynn's Challenge Motivated Bolts to Victory
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Sunday’s 21-0 win over the Denver Broncos was as complete a team victory as there’s been in the NFL this season.
After the game, Philip Rivers commended his team for answering the challenge issued this week by Head Coach Anthony Lynn.
“It’s a great win,” he said. “A great team win. Coach Lynn challenged us this week about all three phases, and what he wanted out of all three phases.”
Boy, did they respond.
The defense dominated Denver, shutting the Broncos out for the first time in 394 games, which ended the second-longest streak in league history as it dated back to 1992. L.A. forced a trio of takeaways and sacked Trevor Siemian five times as they wreaked havoc all afternoon.
While it wasn’t perfect on offense, Philip Rivers and company made the plays when it counted. Number 17 threw a pair of touchdowns, spreading the ball around to seven different targets. Meanwhile, Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler did just enough against the number two ranked rushing defense to bring balance to the Bolts’ attack.
Finally, special teams came through with their best effort of the season. Most notably, Travis Benjamin returned Denver’s first punt of the game 65-yards to the house for the team’s first punt return touchdown since 2012. It also ranked as the ninth-longest return in team history. Meanwhile, Drew Kaser continued to boom the ball, averaging 51.6 yards per attempt while landing three inside the 20. He even tied his career-long with a 69-yard blast that was downed at the one-yard line.
“You get a touchdown on the punt return (and) Drew punted unbelievable,” Rivers surmised. “We were great covering the kicks. Defensively, you have a shutout, which is hard to get in this league. We weren’t great offensively (but) we made the plays when we had to have them, and I think that’s what you have to do. There are some things we need to do better, but making the plays when you’ve got to have them is key, obviously. We haven’t made some of those plays in those early game losses. It was a heck of a team win. It was fun to watch our defense play. Man, they were playing awesome. Again, we found a way to get it done.”
The team also lauded Lynn for keeping the locker room together after starting the year off 0-4. Adverse times can sometimes tear a team apart. Instead, it brought the Bolts together.
“We all stuck together when times were hard,” Melvin Ingram said. “I am not saying times are good, but we are going to stick together no matter what. We are going to keep grinding and let everything take care of itself in the end.”
However, Lynn instead credits the players for their resolve. In fact, it’s their attitude that led him to expect a turnaround rather than merely believing it was possible.
“When we started out 0-3 and nobody flinched, (I knew),” he said. “When we went (0-4) and nobody flinched. I knew it was coming. It was just a matter of time.”
“Our mindset and love for the game has kept us together,” Ingram explained. “The best feeling is knowing you are part of a team that is locked in, and can say no matter what we will stick together. That is a ride or die…. We turned over a page. We started climbing the mountain. I think we are headed in the right direction. We are not where we want to be, but we will get there. We started making the plays, especially the clutch ones.”