Move over, quarterbacks
Davis steals spotlight as Broncos rush past Dolphins 38-3
Posted: Saturday January 09, 1999 09:32 PM
DENVER (AP) -- A meaningful game is all the motivation that Terrell Davis and the Denver Broncos need.
On the day he was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player, Davis ran for 199 yards in 21 carries to lead Denver to a 38-3 win over Miami that put the league's defending champions in the AFC championship game here next Sunday.
"This was as focused as we have been, and we played our best game all year," said John Elway, whose second meeting in 19 days with Dan Marino was relegated to a supporting role because of Davis. "A lot of people were jumping off the bandwagon."
Miami coach Jimmy Johnson, meanwhile, jumped on.
"Denver played like they'll repeat as Super Bowl champs," he said.
He was right.
Denver totally dominated, scoring touchdowns the first three times it had the ball as it jumped to a 21-3 halftime lead over a team it had lost to 31-21 in Miami on Dec. 21. That was the second straight defeat for Denver after winning its first 13 games.
"It's tough to win 13 games and then play two games that don't mean anything," said Davis, who had 129 yards on 16 carries in the first half, exactly 100 yards more than he had in Miami, where he was 16-for-29 for the entire game. In this one, he left with a slight leg cramp early in the fourth quarter, 1 yard short of 200 for the game.
Davis' heroics came against a Miami defensive line that was missing two starters, Pro Bowler Tim Bowens and Jason Taylor. That was one reason Denver scored three rushing touchdowns against a defense that allowed just six TDs on the ground in the regular season.
The Denver defense, meanwhile, dominated against an offense also missing two key starters, tight end Troy Drayton and left tackle Richmond Webb.
But the game also demonstrated that Denver had regained the Super Bowl form it showed in winning its first 13 games -- perhaps even more so. Among other one-sided stats, the Broncos had a 250-14 edge on the ground.
"When you come this far and get beat this bad, it's embarrassing," said Miami defensive tackle Shane Burton.
Most of it was Davis' doing.
"He's the best," Elway said. "That's why he is MVP of the league. I'm glad he's on my team. It makes my job easier."
"I never thought Davis could get that many yards on our defense," said Zach Thomas, Miami's All-Pro linebacker. "He dominated."
Davis, as usual, simply shrugged and credited his offensive line, which was dedicated to avoiding its performance in Miami.
"Any time you come out with 29 yards, everybody takes it personally, particularly the offensive line," Davis said.
"They were great today. It starts up front. I had great room to run. Their job was to get me to the secondary. Once I got there, I tried to create."
The Broncos will be at home again next weekend against the winner of Sunday's game at the Meadowlands between Jacksonville and the New York Jets. The winner of that goes on to the Super Bowl, to be played in Miami on Jan. 31.
The Broncos (15-2) scored touchdowns on their first three possessions, taking 7 minutes and 55 seconds to score the first time on a 1-yard run by Davis, then using just four plays to go 66 yards for the second score, a 20-yard run by Davis in which he left Miami's Ray Hill grasping for air.
Miami (11-7) closed to 14-3 on Olindo Mare's 22-yard field goal, but Denver came back with another long drive, 87 yards in 11 plays capped by Derek Loville's 11-yard run that made it 21-3 at halftime.
Then Davis went 62 yards on the first play from scrimmage of the second half to set up Jason Elam's 32-yard field goal.
All the running overshadowed just the third meeting in 16 seasons between Elway and Marino, the most illustrious members of the quarterback class of 1983. Marino beat Elway in the first two meetings -- in 1985 and last month.
Elway finished 14-of-23 for 182 yards and a 28-yard touchdown pass to Rod Smith early in the fourth quarter that made it 31-3. Defensive end Neil Smith closed out the scoring with a slow-footed 79-yard return of a fumble that Darius Johnson knocked loose from Miami's Oronde Gadsden.
Marino was 26-of-37 for 243 yards and was intercepted twice as Denver more than got its revenge.
"Don't ask me about Marino because I don't talk to losers," said Shannon Sharpe, the Broncos' outspoken tight end, who said after the loss in Miami that Denver was still the better team.
"I said we were 10-14 points better. My prognostication was wrong. We were 35 points better."
Extra Points : The 35-point margin was Denver's largest in playoff history and the biggest defeat in Miami's playoff history. ... Denver hadn't beaten Miami in five games since 1968, the second-longest winless streak in terms of time in the NFL. The Lions haven't beaten the Redskins since 1965. ... Davis' 1999 rushing yards were a team playoff record. ... The Broncos have now won 18 straight games at Mile High Stadium since losing to Jacksonville in the playoffs two years ago. ... Denver left tackle Tony Jones twisted his right knee. Coach Mike Shanahan said he didn't know if Jones would be available next week.
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