On run, Broncos' Davis can be headache... ; No. 2 rush offense poses a formidable challenge; Super Bowl XXXIII


MIAMI -- This year, Terrell Davis better remember his migraine medication.

In Super Bowl XXXII, the Denver Broncos tailback forgot, then had to sit out the second quarter with a debilitating headache. He returned in the second half to collect his second and third touchdowns and the game's MVP hardware in Denver's thrilling 31-24 victory over the Green Bay Packers.

Migraines are about the only thing that can stop Davis these days.

Can the Atlanta Falcons serve one up in Super Bowl XXXIII?

Denver's No. 2 rush offense against Atlanta's No. 2 rush defense promises to be one of the great matchups of this Super Bowl. It's strength against strength, quickness against quickness.

And it very well could decide who wins the game.

So far this season, Denver's undersized offensive line has won nearly all the trench battles. Relying on quickness, execution and Davis' unstinting cutback ability, the Broncos produced 154.3 rushing yards a game. Tony Jones, Mark Schlereth, Tom Nalen, Dan Neil and Harry Swayne average only 287.6 pounds a man -- a far cry from the typical 300-plus pounders of the era -- and fullback Howard Griffith is a streamlined 230.

They'll be matched up with the Falcons' equally quick defensive front of Chuck Smith, Shane Dronett, Travis Hall and Lester Archambeau. Those four down linemen average just 283.8 pounds a man, which should make for some terrific infighting as Davis seeks out his cutback lanes.

Atlanta surrendered a paltry 75.2 rush yards a game and only 3.33 a carry this season.

The Broncos proved themselves adaptable as well in 1998. Neil and Swayne became starters this season without any falloff in production. Rushing yards increased by an average of 6 a game, touchdowns jumped by eight, and the average carry climbed from 4.6 to 4.7.

Davis, this season's MVP, makes it all work better. He rushed for 2,008 yards in the regular season, and has totaled 2,374 in 18 games, counting playoffs. He is averaging an NFL-best 148.3 rush yards for seven career postseason games, and has gone over 100 in a record-tying six straight (John Riggins shares the record).

Davis appreciates the unsung heroes who block for him.

"I always try to hold myself accountable if anything goes wrong in this offense," he said. "I never blame other people, and won't take credit for what I've done. My offensive line is the best there is, and I wouldn't be able to do anything without them."

Or his migraine medication.

Pub Date: 1/26/99

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