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Lynch back in the booth for Vikings and Lions

In early September of 2008, the New England Patriots released John Lynch.

Two months later, on Nov. 17, he officially announced his retirement from football.

Six days later he joined Fox Sports in the broadcasting booth as an NFL analyst.

His first game?

The Vikings at Jacksonville.

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"I played for 15 years, and left the game on my own terms,'' he said, "and got everything out of the game that I could. This (broadcasting) is simply the next stage of my life, and allows me to stay close to the game.''

Vikings fans will recall that Dick Stockton (play-by-play) and Lynch were the announcers for Fox on last Sunday's game against Tampa Bay.

Guess what? The Stockton-Lynch team are back Sunday, calling the noon game from the Metrodome against the Detroit Lions.

Back-to-back games with the same team?

"Unusual, but in my three years with Fox, it has happened before,'' said Lynch, on a phone conversation Thursday. "It gives me some familiarity with the team, which is nice and I certainly know the storyline with the Vikings.''

Which is?

"Oh, they must learn how to finish a game as a team,'' he said. "That's the bottom line. Against Tampa Bay, the defense was on the field too and offense, defense, special teams, no one made a play.''

Lynch, who turns 40 on Sunday, has Hall of Fame credentials. A strong safety, he was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, earned a Super Bowl ring with the Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII and was ranked No. 10 as the most feared tackler in a NFL Films production.

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He compares playing to broadcasting. Not in physical terms, but in preparation.

"On the flight home from the game I'll watch the broadcast and look for things where I can improve,'' he said. "Then my preparation for the following game starts on Monday. I'll study film all week and on Thursday finish my ‘boards.'

"Friday is when it starts to get fun. We go to practice and meet with the head coach, quarterback and one or two other players and on Saturday do the same with the visiting team.

"And I would be lying if I said I didn't get butterflies before a game.''

Lynch said all is not lost with an 0-2 start for the Vikings. But they could certainly use a win.

"For one, they haven't played a divisional game yet,'' he said, "and it's still very early. I'm sure the Vikings have had some growing pains with a new coach and that, but it's time for them to learn how to finish a game.''

Against the Lions it won't be easy.

"They're for real,'' he said. "They've dominated for two weeks, the score the first week was a lot closer than it was. They have a lot of weapons on offense and their defense has been impressive as well. They made some subtle changes under the radar and they play a fun type of ball.

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"They're here to stay.''

Two years ago, Lynch was paired with Chris Rose and last year with Ron Pitts.

Now it's Dick Stockton who has been around, well, forever, or so it seems.

"I have learned so much from him,'' said Lynch. "I remember watching Dick growing up. I remember watching Celtics and Lakers games with Dick on the call. And he did plenty of games when I played, too.

"This has been a wonderful experience.''

Around the tube

• Where will our fired University of Minnesota football coaches appear next?

Glen Mason is back at TCF Bank Stadium for the Gophers and North Dakota State game (6 p.m.) on the Big Ten Network) while Tim Brewster is the sideline reporter for Saturday's Missouri at Oklahoma game (7 p.m.)  on FX. He joins Gus Johnson (play-by-play) and Charles Davis (analyst).

• Sixteen percent of the country will see the Vikings-Lions on Fox.

* The Eagles-Falcons Sunday night game on NBC was the most-watched program on television last week (Sept. 12-18) drawing an average of 23.4 million viewers – nearly doubling the 12.4 million that watched the Emmy Awards, also on Sunday in primetime.

The CBS national telecast (mostly Chargers-Patriots) ranked second for the week with 22.7 million viewers.

With two weeks completed, NFL games already account for five of the six most-watched sporting events since Super Bowl XLV in February.

NFL games was the top-rated programs for 30 NFL markets for the second straight week. Minneapolis ranked ninth with a 33.4 rating and 67 share.

* Sunday NFL Countdown on ESPN has an "Art of the Sack''  feature of Ndamukong Suh of the Detroit Lions. The Vikings will see plenty of Suh on Sunday, it appears.

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