Davis gets up head of steam

Redskins derail Seahawks

142 yards on 32 carries, defense lead way, 27-14

NFL Week 8

November 05, 2001|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER - If there's anyone who wanted to forget the Washington Redskins' first five games, it was running back Stephen Davis - and for good reason: He wasn't getting nearly as many carries as he wanted, and when he did carry the ball, he was prone to fumbling.

But Davis, who ran for more than 2,700 yards the previous two seasons, is showing increasing signs of returning to the form that Redskins fans remember, putting on a dominant performance in Washington's 27-14 win over the Seattle Seahawks at FedEx Field yesterday.

Davis, who ran for 142 yards on 32 carries and a touchdown, the first rushing touchdown of the year for the Redskins, was brilliant against a Seahawks defense that came in ranked fourth in the NFL against the run.

"The last two weeks, we've had everybody contributing," Davis said. "The offensive line did a great job [yesterday]. Those guys work their butts off during the week, preparing. The whole week, everybody was saying we can't run on these guys [Seattle]. Well, we proved them wrong."

Indeed, as a team, the Redskins (3-5) ran for more than 230 yards against Seattle, with Davis, who had 107 yards rushing last week against the New York Giants, providing the thunder and sending his coach and teammates looking for comparisons.

"He's as good as [any] I've been around, and I've been around good ones," said Washington coach Marty Schottenheimer, who previously coached in Cleveland and Kansas City. "Marcus Allen, Christian Okoye, Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack. He's as good as any of them."

Said Redskins guard Dave Szott, who played for Schottenheimer in Kansas City: "I'll go one up. Stephen's the best back I've ever had a chance to block for. He's in his prime. Marcus was a great back, but he was toward the end of his career, but Stephen is just phenomenal, and we're fortunate to have a back like that.

"He's got great instincts. He sees the hole and he runs hard. When he commits, when he makes a decision, he hits it 100 miles an hour, which is going to help him get through an arm tackle. Even when they get him early, he'll get three or four. I've been around some guys who kind of stutter, but when he makes a decision, he sees it and goes."

In the process, Davis, who hadn't scored since Week 10 of last season against the Arizona Cardinals, moved past current Ravens rusher Terry Allen into third on the all-time Redskins rushing list with 4,184 yards in six seasons.

On the second-quarter drive that Davis scored on - a punishing 13-play, 69-yard trip that gobbled up nearly eight minutes - Davis carried nine times, including the last eight, reminding some of Washington's all-time leading rusher, John Riggins, who used to close out games similarly, with long drives and multiple, repetitive carries.

"I'm proud and I'm happy for Stephen," said linebacker LaVar Arrington. `That's the game he needed for his confidence. Like I said, it might have awakened the sleeping giant."

Davis' hard running not only allowed the Redskins to dominate the time of possession (39:18 to 20:42 for Seattle), but also kept ex-Ravens quarterback Tony Banks from having to make the deep throws that had marked the Redskins' past two wins.

"It wasn't too easy [to throw the deep ball] because we didn't throw it that much," said Banks, who went 15-for-23 passing for 152 yards and two touchdowns.

"But I have no problem with that. It's no secret that our offense is based around Stephen Davis and being able to run the football and being able to stretch the defense and get defenses doing what they don't want to do."

The Redskins, who have won three straight after losing their first five, scored a touchdown on the opening possession, watched the Seahawks (3-4) tie the game on their first drive, then scored on four of their next five possessions to put the game away.

Washington's defense, meanwhile, so frustrated young Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who was 6-for-12 for 127 yards, that Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren benched him at halftime and replaced him with another former Ravens quarterback, Trent Dilfer, who was 8-for-18 for 121 yards and a third-quarter touchdown pass.

"Defensively, we were just having fun," said Redskins defensive end Bruce Smith. "We realize that the opportunity we had [yesterday], we haven't had very many times this year. ... We were able to get out there and pretty much pin our ears back."

The day's only potential downer was a third-quarter injury to Arrington, who, along with defensive end Kenard Lang, has been Washington's best defender this year.

Arrington was in pursuit of Seattle running back Shawn Alexander, and an unidentified Seahawks offensive player rolled over his lower leg. Arrington was diagnosed with an ankle sprain.

"I just knew it was broken," Arrington said. "It was such a sharp pain. I just laid there and I felt it was broke and I just accepted it. It was a bonus that it was just a sprain."

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