Shanny says Lynch hit was clean |

Shanny says Lynch hit was clean

EDDIE PELLSthe associated press

AP Photo Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan, center, talks with officials during the fourth quarter of the game with the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas CIty, Sunday.

DENVER – Mike Shanahan took the Denver media to his office Monday to watch TV. The show: John Lynch’s disputed hit to Eddie Kennison’s helmet that cost the Broncos dearly in their loss to Kansas City.”The reason I put this up here is because I’ve got to speak in John’s defense,” Shanahan said of his Pro Bowl safety. “Number One, I don’t think he should be fined.”Shanahan conceded it was a close call in the fourth quarter of the 31-27 loss that sent Denver to 9-3. It took the coach seven camera angles before he could find definitive proof. But the seventh angle shows Lynch hitting the Chiefs wide receiver with his shoulder, not his helmet.

Even with that proof, most of the damage has already been done. Denver got penalized for the hit, which turned what would have been a third-and-7 into a first-and-goal from the 4. A play later, after the Chiefs scored the go-ahead touchdown, Lynch got called for unsportsmanlike conduct.Shanahan conceded the game is over and there’s nothing he can do about the call from that stand point.But the coach is trying to save Lynch some money. As he sees it, the video evidence shows the hard-hitting safety, who racked up $82,500 in fines last year, probably shouldn’t be fined for this one.Could Lynch have gotten this penalty more on reputation than on what really happened?”I don’t think so,” Shanahan said. “In the heat of battle, officials don’t look at who it is. They just make decisions and they’ve got to make the call they think’s right.”For his part, Lynch declined comment Monday, saying “I’ll probably get myself in trouble.”His teammates, however, came to his defense, much as they did after the game Sunday.

Among the things that bothered them were the fact that Kennison himself got up after the hit and gave Lynch something of a congratulatory pat on the back. Also, it took a while for the official to throw the flag.”I got off the ground, and then I see, defensive foul,” cornerback Champ Bailey said. “I’m like, why did it take so long to call the foul? If you’re questioning it so much, why call it?”Later, the Broncos had another call go against them. It was referee Bill Leavy’s decision to re-spot the ball after officials initially ruled Mike Anderson had made a first down on a fourth-and-1 run with 2:01 left. Leavy decided Anderson really didn’t make the yard he needed. Kansas City got the ball back and didn’t give it up until only 3 seconds remained.Shanahan didn’t show reporters any replays of that one.”It’s one of those things,” he said. “Is it conclusive? Did Mike reach out? Did they get to see all the different angles?”They saw enough to reverse the call and help seal Denver’s 15th loss in 16 games at Kansas City in December.It’s not to say Denver didn’t do plenty to lose the game on its own.

The Broncos offense scored only two field goals and made only 105 yards in the second half.The defense let Larry Johnson run wild; he gained 90 of his 140 yards in the fourth quarter.”We’ve done a good job through the season, but that fourth quarter wasn’t one of our better quarters when it came to run defense,” Shanahan said.As a result, Denver dropped from first to third in the league in run defense. (Denver’s 29th-ranked pass defense wasn’t great, either, allowing 253 yards and two long scoring passes.)More importantly, the Broncos saw their two-game lead in the AFC West slip to one – over KC and San Diego – and saw a chance to essentially put the division away turn into a close race with potential to last through the rest of the season.Denver’s big break is that its next three games are against Baltimore, Buffalo and Oakland, all of which are 4-8. If Denver takes care of business, the Chiefs loss will seem like only a blip – especially if Lynch gets off without a fine.”I just wanted you to get a feel for this, without saying John’s got another helmet-to-helmet” hit, Shanahan said.