Broncos' Davis headache for Pack Runner the difference in upset for Denver

January 26, 1998|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

SAN DIEGO -- The difference between the Green Bay Packers and the Denver Broncos is running back Terrell Davis.

Forget the offensive line. Forget the hard-hitting safeties. And forget John Elway. Terrell Davis is the Denver Broncos. Instead of the final score reading Denver 31, Green Bay 24, maybe this is more appropriate.

Davis 31, Packers 24.

Davis gives Denver a running game. He takes pressure off Elway, who threw for only 123 yards last night. His running ability also helps the Broncos control the clock and keep their defense off the field.

When Davis left the game late in the first quarter with a migraine headache, Denver's offense slowed to a crawl, getting a grand total of 14 yards in the second quarter.

But once Davis re-entered the game to start the third quarter, Denver began controlling the game again. On the Broncos' lone score of the third period, Davis had seven carries for 30 yards and scored a 1-yard touchdown with 34 seconds left in the quarter.

He also finished the Packers with a 1-yard run on the game-winning touchdown with 1: 45 left in the game. He set up the touchdown with a 17-yard run on the previous play.

It was Davis who also helped set up Elway's touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter. Davis finished with 157 yards on 30 attempts, three touchdowns, the game's MVP award and a trip to Disney.

"In my book, he is the best running back in the league, bar none," Elway said. "He showed it again tonight. He's always breaking tackles and he's always going north and south. And plus those big guys up front. They really did a great job. They controlled the line of scrimmage and out-physicaled Green Bay, which is pretty good for the lightest line in the NFL."

Davis also showed that Green Bay's defensive line is not as strong as it was a year ago. Nose guard Gilbert Brown needs to get in better playing condition and defensive end Reggie White is too old to be an every-down player. Denver simply wore down the defensive line in the second half, and repeatedly ran outside off right tackle Tony Jones and left tackle Gary Zimmerman.

"We wore them down and we had them on their heels the entire game," Denver guard Mark Schlereth said. "Heck, I wasn't even tired."

Green Bay also had trouble finding a way to stop tight end Shannon Sharpe, especially on crossing patterns. Sharpe finished with five receptions for 38 yards.

Denver had a nice defensive game plan against Green Bay. It blitzed Favre early and often, enough to make him change his play numerous times at the line of scrimmage.

"We did a lot of different things to Brett Favre," safety Steve Atwater said. "We threw a lot of blitzes at him. We got good pressure on him. And our guys covered good on the outside. I'm glad he didn't scramble. Once he gets out, he can be very dangerous."

The first quarter belonged to Denver except for Green Bay scoring on its first drive of the game, finished by a 22-yard touchdown pass from Favre to wide receiver Antonio Freeman. It was one of the few times the four-wide receiver set worked for Green Bay in the half as Denver had success blitzing every time Green Bay showed the formation.

Denver, despite Favre's ability to move in the pocket, stayed with the blitz on a Green Bay possession in the second quarter with the Broncos up 14-7. On third-and-five from the Packers' 34, both Atwater and linebacker Bill Romanowski blitzed. Favre, though, only saw Romanowski and Atwater sacked him causing a fumble that end Neil Smith recovered at the Green Bay 33.

"We've been getting turnovers the whole year," Smith said. "We got the fumbles and the turnovers. Those are the things that make you win."

Rush to win

Terrell Davis turned in the fifth-best Super Bowl rushing performance:

Year Player, team ............. Yds Result

1988 Tim Smith, Redskins ...... 204 Redskins 42, Broncos 10

1984 Marcus Allen, Raiders .... 191 Raiders 38, Redskins 9

1983 John Riggins, Redskins ... 166 Redskins 27, Dolphins 17

1975 Franco Harris, Steelers .. 158 Steelers 16, Vikings 6

1998 Terrell Davis, Broncos ... 157 Broncos 31, Packers 24

Pub Date: 1/26/98

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