Elway does a lap around Mile High, but won't say it's his last; QB prefers to focus on job at hand, not retirement; AFC notebook


DENVER -- His victory lap around Mile High Stadium notwithstanding, John Elway wasn't ready to divulge his retirement plans in the wake of the Denver Broncos' 23-10 win over the New York Jets in yesterday's AFC championship game.

"My main focus is to finish this year before I think about what I'm going to do next year," Elway said.

Many here believe that this was Elway's last stand in Denver and that Super Bowl XXXIII will conclude his illustrious career. Among them, apparently, is Mike Shanahan, his coach.

"It was an emotional time for John," Shanahan said after the Broncos earned a Super Bowl berth opposite the Atlanta Falcons. "He took that lap around the stadium, and I encouraged him to do it."

Elway admitted his reluctance.

"I guess I didn't feel comfortable [doing it]," he said. "But once I did, I was glad I did. These fans have been great for 16 years and I said I loved them.

"I got a chance to see the fans and look into their eyes, and I had a chance to really concentrate on them. Usually I'm so involved in the football game, it's hard to concentrate on them. So it was nice to be able to do that."

Next come the Falcons and Dan Reeves, his Broncos coach in his formative NFL years. It is a topic -- student against teacher -- that will be played over and over in the two weeks of Super Bowl hype.

"He's got them playing great and Dan is a great football coach," Elway said. "When you look at what he's done in the last two years with them, it's just unbelievable. We know we're going to have to play better football than we did today. But we're excited that we're the team from the AFC."

Parcells isn't leaving

Jets coach Bill Parcells has no plans to hop on the coaching carousel that has seen eight coaches fired or resign since the end of the regular season.

"Forget that," Parcells said when asked if he would step down after the 23-10 loss to Denver.

There had been speculation that Parcells might leave, especially if the Jets won the Super Bowl.

Parcells cut short his post-game news conference, pleading exhaustion.

But he made it clear he was planning to return next season, saying the Jets need to "start where we started last year, and not try to just pick up where we left off. We have to start over."

Earlier in the week, reflecting on the heavy workload during the season, Parcells said, "Success is never final. Never. There is always more to do."

He runs, and runs, and

Terrell Davis' 167-yard rushing performance added to the Denver running back's domination as a postseason performer.

The NFL's Most Valuable Player, who rushed for 2,008 yards this season, now has gained 1,038 yards in playoffs and Super Bowls. He is averaging 148.2 yards in the postseason; next best is John Riggins, who gained 110.7 per playoff game.

Davis ranks sixth in postseason yards rushing, trailing Franco Harris, Emmitt Smith, Thurman Thomas, Tony Dorsett and Marcus Allen.

Broncos vs. Falcons

The Broncos have played the Falcons nine times, winning six of those matchups, including the last four. Atlanta last won in 1982.

Against Reeves, Broncos coach Mike Shanahan is 1-0: a 29-21 victory at Atlanta on Sept. 28, 1997.

Martin's miserable day

Curtis Martin looked like anything but a man who has rushed for more than 1,150 yards in each of his four pro seasons.

The Jets' Martin was held to a measly 14 yards on 13 rushes. He never got any room to run, particularly to the outside. Nor was he able to slash through the line, as is his wont. This allowed the Broncos' defense to direct its focus almost entirely to Vinny Testaverde's passing game.

"There was a man matched up on me wherever I went," said Martin, a Pro Bowl alternate. "I have to give them credit. They wrapped me up and made the tackles."

Martin also fumbled in the second quarter, his second bobble in two weeks. "I was just trying to give the extra effort and get some extra yards," he said. "That's when the ball came loose."

Remembering the past

Winston Hill, a starting tackle for the Jets when they won the 1969 Super Bowl, was an honorary captain. An eight-time all-star, he owns several restaurants in the Denver area.

The Broncos' honorary captain was Haven Moses, a wide receiver who is tied for most touchdowns receiving in Denver history, 44.

Wire services contributed to this article.

High in the saddle

The Denver Broncos yesterday became the first AFC team to qualify for their sixth Super Bowl. Most appearances:

No. Team Last time W-L

8 Cowboys '96 5-3

6 Broncos x-'98 1-4

5 Dolphins '83 2-3

5 Redskins '92 3-2

5 49ers '95 5-0

5 Steelers '96 4-1

x-before this season

Pub Date: 1/18/99

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