Davis's Versatilility Helps in Win
By John Mossman
MIAMI Even as a decoy, Terrell Davis had a super impact.
When he wasn't running the ball or catching it, he was setting the Atlanta Falcons up for the kill.
Davis carried 25 times for 102 yards and caught two passes for 50 yards in the Denver Broncos' 34-19 win over Atlanta in the Super Bowl on Sunday. But it was what he did without the ball that proved just as significant.
The biggest play of the game came when quarterback John Elway and Davis pulled off a perfect run fake on a play-action pass. The trickery froze the Atlanta secondary, which had devoted its defensive game plan to stopping Davis, and Elway threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Rod Smith to put the Broncos ahead 17-3 in the third quarter.
"I don't mind being a decoy at all,'' Davis said. "It doesn't matter. I'll do what I need to do to help this team win championships.''
A year ago, Davis was the Super Bowl MVP as the Broncos beat Green Bay 31-24. On Sunday, he was perfectly content to let Elway get all the glory.
Fighting off leg cramps and an initially unyielding Atlanta defense, he turned in a fine all-around performance that, in other years, might have been worthy of MVP honors.
But with the 38-year-old Elway capturing that award, Davis starred in a supporting role.
"We have a lot of key people on this team,'' said Davis, the league's MVP during the regular season after rushing for 2,008 yards. "I'm just a piece of the puzzle. When you stop our running game, you have to deal with our passing game. John was really on today.''
Referring to expectations that Elway might retire, Davis said, "This would be a storybook ending for him if he decides to leave the game. But, hopefully, he'll come back for one more year and we can see if we can win it three times.''
It was Davis' seventh straight 100-yard rushing game in the postseason, an NFL record. He and Washington's John Riggins had been tied with six in a row.
"He had a heck of a game,'' Atlanta coach Dan Reeves said of Davis. "I've never seen anybody break so many tackles. They can really spread the ball around.''
Davis said the Broncos' second straight Super Bowl title "was a lot better than the first. At least to me, this one was sweeter. To go through this season having to fight every game and knowing that you had a big target on your back was tough.''
Davis, who ran for 157 yards and three touchdowns in last year's Super Bowl, had only 18 yards on six carries in the first quarter against the stubborn Falcons.
"On the first couple of carries, they let me know it was going to be a long day for me,'' he said. "But I had a mindset coming in that it was going to be a very physical game. What really slowed me down was that I was cramping up the entire game.''
But he cranked it up on a drive that led to a field goal and a 10-3 lead early in the second quarter. He had runs of 8 and 13 yards, and then added 6 yards with a nifty spin move to elude Falcons end Chuck Smith.
He had a 15-yard gain late in the half as the Broncos took a 17-6 lead at intermission.
In a scoreless third quarter, Davis, a secondary receiver, caught a short pass from Elway and turned it into an 11-yard gain.
Later in the quarter, he broke an attempted tackle by linebacker Jessie Tuggle and reversed his field for an 11-yard gain.
Early in the final period, Davis caught a short pass off the left side. Breaking tackles and maintaining his balance along the sideline, he turned it into a 39-yard gain to the Atlanta 9-yard line. Two plays later, Elway's 3-yard run on a quarterback draw put the Broncos ahead 31-6 with 11:20 remaining.
Once again, he was not the primary receiver.
"We noticed on film that every time we did play-action pass, their linebackers would run out,'' Davis said. "So I just stepped up into the zone to just be an outlet for John. There was no one there.''
© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press