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Lynch repeats as offensive MVP

After making it two straight seasons with over 1,000 rushing yards and two straight seasons leading the offense in scoring, it was no surprise to see Bills running back Marshawn Lynch repeat as the team's offensive MVP for 2008.

Lynch captured almost 50 percent of the vote in the Fan Award online poll and had more than twice the support of his next closest teammate in the voting Josh Reed.

Once again Lynch was the engine that made Buffalo's offense go. Though the ground game got off to a slow start in terms of yardage production in the season's first half, Lynch made sure to deliver when it came to putting points on the board with six rushing touchdowns in the team's first seven games.

"He's our guy," said Duke Preston of Lynch. "I think as offensive linemen that's what we take pride in, letting our guys get out there and do their thing. Sitting there grinding and making your blocks and trying to hit people in the mouth and seeing your guy skirt right past you into the open field, that's our pleasure. That's what we live for up front. To see him do well and have good games, that's really our goal and it opens up our offense completely."

And when the Bills' ground game kicked it into gear down the stretch, Lynch was in the middle of the explosion with three of his best rushing days coming in the last six games in which he appeared. Lynch missed the season finale due to a painful shoulder injury.

The Bills feature back also expanded his game as he came close to tripling his receiving numbers of his rookie season with 47 receptions for 300 yards and a touchdown in 2008. Lynch finished third on the team in receptions.

Coupled with Fred Jackson's reception totals (37), the duo led the league in receptions by a backfield tandem with 84.

"When we do get in those passing down situations, they're going to try and match up with a linebacker, and there's not many linebackers in this league that can guard Fred and Marshawn," said Trent Edwards. "It's nice to know I have guys like Marshawn and Fred in my back pocket."

Lynch's 1,069 rushing yards were also good for fifth in the AFC and helped to earn his first alternate honors for the Pro Bowl.

"When you watch him play, he just loves to play, likes the competition, likes the challenge of it," said head coach Dick Jauron. "He gives you everything he's got on every snap. He's very much a team-oriented player. I can't say enough about the guy."

He also stepped forward after the run game had been struggling and chose to shoulder the blame for its shortcomings.

"I know you've all been looking and wondering what's up with the run game and I'm here to tell you I'm going to put it on me," Lynch said at the time. "I'm the feature back here and I don't feel as the feature back I've played like it. There have been some key things that I've seen on film where I feel I could have made a better play or I could have had a little more patience and it would have been a better run."

Lynch would go on to have one of his most productive outings of the season as the team rushed for a season-high 187 yards against the Jets in Week 15.

Playing hurt in a Week 16 road tilt at Denver, Lynch motivated his teammates as he capped a two-minute drill at the end of the first half with a two-yard touchdown run before retiring for the rest of the game due to the shoulder injury. The team went on to post one of their few comeback road wins in the season's second half.

"He inspires me because a lot of times I think the play is over and he's carrying about five or six guys on his back and that's hard to do play in and play out," said Langston Walker. "He gives his all. I've seen him throw up on the sidelines just from running so hard."

Lynch's play not only helped his team, but raised the level of play of his teammates. Hopefully that translates into not only more individual success for Lynch on the stat sheet, but team success as well in the years to come.

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