For Davis, win both pain, joy Broncos back savors victory, but ribs ache

AFC notebook

January 05, 1998|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis laughed, then grimaced, then smiled.

Such is life when your team is headed to the AFC title game, you have just helped them get there by rushing for 101 yards, and your ribs are killing you.

After yesterday's 14-10 divisional playoff victory over the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs, Davis saluted the training staff for making his successful day possible.

"They shot me up [with painkillers] before the game, but there was a little pain today," Davis said. "Actually, it hurt pretty bad. I just wanted to make sure I got to run the ball in the second half. If you abandon the running game, usually you're in trouble."

The Broncos were not about to abandon Davis, who led the AFC with 1,750 rushing yards in the regular season, yet managed just 31 yards on 14 carries in the first half.

Davis, who has battled through a separated shoulder this season, wore a flak jacket to protect the ribs he bruised in last week's wild-card victory over Jacksonville. He said the jacket played a direct role in his two fumbles, both of which were recovered by the Broncos.

"I couldn't feel the ball on the first one. I thought I had it, but apparently I didn't," Davis said.

His most anxious moment came after his best run. Midway through the third quarter, Davis broke two tackles during a 41-yard burst up the left sideline, but had to leave the game briefly after the tackle by safety Reggie Tongue sent pain shooting through his ribs.

Davis then watched backup running back Derek Loville ruin the Broncos' drive by fumbling the ball away on the Kansas City 11.

A blitz of good and bad

In the game-within-a-game department, yesterday's outcome was largely dictated by how well each team handled the blitz.

The Chiefs faltered constantly under Denver's constantly changing looks. The Broncos dropped defensive linemen into coverage on zone blitzes, and often brought six or seven pass rushers after Kansas City quarterback Elvis Grbac, sacking him four times.

The Broncos, however, hardly resembled the pass protecting group that allowed six sacks in their 24-22 loss to Kansas City here on Nov. 16. They allowed only one sack, and John Elway set up both Denver touchdowns by burning the blitz with long gainers.

Left tackle Gary Zimmerman was especially impressive, limiting Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas (one tackle) to zero sacks.

Elway moves up list

Elway added more luster to his sterling 15-year career with a performance spectacular at just the right moments. By completing 10 of 19 passes for 170 yards, Elway passed Terry Bradshaw and Jim Kelly to move into second place on the NFL's all-time playoff passing yardage list with 3,940. The leader is Joe Montana with 5,772.

Sacks to savor

Neil Smith, formerly on the Chiefs, relished his day, which included two sacks of Grbac.

After recording his first sack, Smith, who left Kansas City for Denver as a free agent during the off-season, was booed loudly by the Arrowhead Stadium crowd. Smith responded by raising his arms.

Smith saluted teammate and defensive end Alfred Williams, who also had two sacks.

L "Me and Alfred were on the quarterback all day," Smith said.

Pub Date: 1/05/98

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