Even one half adds up for Davis

Back gains 119 yards before injuring his knee

January 09, 2000|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER -- Any doubt concerning running back Stephen Davis and his sore ankle were dismissed a quarter into the Redskins' 27-13 NFC wild-card win over the Detroit Lions yesterday.

But he had to leave early with another problem -- this time a mildly sprained knee.

Davis, who came into the Redskins' first playoff game since January 1993 listed as probable, looked more fresh than hobbled in his first start in three weeks, displaying the same form that produced an NFC-leading 1,405 yards during the regular season.

But after carrying the ball 15 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns -- leading the Redskins to 20 unanswered points on their first four offensive possessions -- Davis' afternoon was over after a Lions linebacker landed on his knee with 10 minutes left in the first half.

After a couple of minutes on the ground at the Lions' 6, Davis bounced up and ran off the field to a roaring ovation from the Redskins' record crowd of 79,411 at FedEx Field.

Just before the half, it was announced Davis was out with an injury listed as a sprained right medial collateral ligament, but it appeared to be more of a precautionary measure with the Redskins comfortably leading 27-0 and a trip to Tampa Bay for a divisional playoff ahead on Saturday.

"Yeah, I'll be ready to go," Davis said.

"I knew I had to get up and off the field quickly, to let everyone know I was all right. When I got to the sideline is when it started hurting more. My knee hurts, but I feel I can play next week."

Redskins coach Norv Turner is counting on it.

"I gave the defensive line a game ball, and I gave Stephen Davis a game ball, but he can't collect it unless he plays at Tampa," he said.

Yesterday, against the same Lions defense that limited him to 51 yards on 12 carries in a 33-17 Detroit win on Dec. 5, Davis made the most of his brief afternoon.

Turner wanted to establish a running game early -- something they failed to do in the regular-season loss at Detroit.

Davis obliged.

"I knew if our line executed and stayed on their blocks, I could break a long one. I felt I could have a good game," Davis said.

He plowed over from 1 yard out to cap a nine-play, 69-yard opening drive for a 7-0 lead.

The long run he expected came in the Redskins' second series, when he got around the left side for a 58-yard gain -- tying a Redskins playoff record set by Timmy Smith in Super Bowl XXII in January 1988. It set up his second score and 19th of the season, a 4-yard run left with guard Tre Johnson providing the key block.

"On the long run that he made, the play was really designed to go inside, and Stephen started to take it inside, then at the last second bounced it outside," Turner said. "I don't know how to describe what allows the guy to do it, other than the great vision he has.

"He's so physical and then with the athletic ability and vision, that was a great run."

Detroit quarterback Gus Frerotte's return to Washington was turned into a disappointing one by the Redskins' relentless defensive front.

And while the Lions, who closed out the year losers of five straight, self-destructed on offense with eight first-half penalties and only four first downs, Davis and the Redskins' offense got their work done early.

"Stephen makes a big impact when he's in the game for us. It's unbelievable the energy he brings to our offensive line, and he also helps us get some one-on-one coverages," said Redskins quarterback Brad Johnson, who completed 15 of 31 attempts for 174 yards.

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