Commentary

Flynn's late-game heroics becoming routine for LSU

Updated: November 4, 2007, 1:55 AM ET
By Chris Low | ESPN.com

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- So much for being just a caretaker.

[+] EnlargeMatt Flynn
Doug Benc/Getty ImagesMatt Flynn has learned how to forget about mistakes and focus on the next play.

The prevailing theory coming into this season was that LSU had so many offensive weapons surrounding Matt Flynn that his job was, well… not to screw it up.

At times, it seemed he was on his way to screwing it up -- thanks to three interceptions -- as Alabama built a 10-point lead in the second half in what had to seem like a bad dream for Les Miles in raucous Bryant-Denny Stadium.

But nobody cleans up a mess like these Bayou Bengals, and nobody gets it done when he has to any better than Flynn.

The fifth-year senior waited for two years behind JaMarcus Russell to get his shot. And he's not about to screw it up.

"At [the quarterback] position, you have to have a short-term memory," Flynn shrugged. "It doesn't matter if it's good or bad what's happened before. You just have to forget about it and go on."

Words to live by.

Flynn, two weeks removed from throwing for a career-high 319 yards against Auburn and the game-winning touchdown with a second to play, shredded Alabama in the second half Saturday with another career effort in LSU's come-from-behind 41-34 win. He had 202 of his 353 yards after halftime, and his third touchdown pass of the night came on fourth-and-4 with 2:49 to play, tying the score at 34-34.

Senior receiver Early Doucet ran an option route to the inside, caught Flynn's quick toss over the middle and weaved his way 32 yards into the end zone.

Just a few seconds earlier, Doucet said, he and Flynn just sort of looked at each other in the huddle. Not much needed to be said.

"He winked at me, and I winked back," Doucet said. "We knew it was a play we'd run thousands of times and knew it was a play we were going to execute."

It's also the kind of poise under pressure Doucet has come to expect from his quarterback.

[+] EnlargeEarly Doucet
Doug Benc/Getty ImagesLSU's Early Doucet has become Matt Flynn's favorite target since returning from an injury.

"That's just Matt," Doucet said. "You can't really tell if he's having his best game or his worst game. He's just going to keep pushing, keep playing his game.

"Sooner or later, he's going to get you."

If anything, LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton felt Flynn tried to do too much and take on too much of the offensive burden in the first half. His first interception came right after Alabama pulled within 17-10 early in the second quarter. He threw two more in his next seven attempts, and both were bad decisions.

"The thing I really appreciated about Matt is that after he made those three errors, it's easy for a quarterback to start getting real careful and getting sacked," Crowton said. "But he just shrugged it off and got stronger and tougher and finished the game really well."

That wasn't the case in the Tigers' only loss of the season. Flynn completed just 17 passes for 130 yards in the 43-37 triple-overtime loss to Kentucky. He also was sacked three times and generally was ineffective.

But in his past two games, he has thrown for 672 yards and six touchdowns -- and the Tigers are bearing down on a potential spot in the BCS National Championship Game.

"He had the [ankle] injury earlier, and that slowed him, but he came back last game and won the game for us at the end," Crowton said. "So you see the mental toughness. The thing that was so impressive about tonight was that he stayed with his reads, didn't panic, didn't get happy feet. He just hung in there, and that's hard when you have the early errors."

Flynn's biggest pass of the game might have come after Alabama jumped ahead 27-17 with 1:19 left in the third quarter. The place was rocking, and you could almost sense that the Tigers were teetering.

But two plays later, Flynn noticed that speedy Demetrius Byrd had tight man coverage on the outside. Byrd was supposed to run an out route. But with Simeon Castille pressing him at the line of scrimmage, Byrd gave Flynn a little wave.

That's all Flynn needed, and he hit Byrd in stride for a 61-yard touchdown.

"You've got to answer there, and we did that," Flynn said. "I don't think there was ever any question in anybody's mind that we were going to win this game.

"I've said it over and over. There's a lot of heart and lot of grown men out there that understand you've got to hang in there until the end."

His teammates have come to expect his late heroics.

"When he's gotta come up with a play, he comes up with a play," senior defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey said. "I know I'm glad he's on my team."

Chris Low is a college football writer for ESPN.com. Send your questions and comments to Chris at espnclow@aol.com.

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