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Unstoppable
Austin Murphy
February 02, 1998
Terrell Davis decoyed and destroyed the Packers defense, giving Green Bay a migraine of its own
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February 02, 1998

Unstoppable

Terrell Davis decoyed and destroyed the Packers defense, giving Green Bay a migraine of its own

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Terrell Davis was seeing three Mike Shanahans, so he answered the one in the middle. The second quarter was about to start, the Broncos had the ball on the Packers' one-yard line, and the Denver coach wanted to know how his stud running back was feeling. "I'm seeing double and triple," replied Davis. "That's when I knew he was in trouble," said Shanahan after the game. A hard blow to the head three plays earlier had-triggered in Davis the blurred vision symptomatic of the early stages of a migraine, to which he has been susceptible since he was seven.

Still, Shanahan sought to use his woozy Pro Bowl running back, but as a decoy. The plan: Fake a handoff to Davis into the middle of the line, then have John Elway galumph around right end for a play-action pass or a quarterback keeper. As Davis made his unsteady way onto the field, Shanahan told him, "Just go over the top."

Over the top is exactly where Davis has carried the Broncos. After running for 1,750 yards and 15 touchdowns in the regular season, his third in the NFL, Davis added 581 rushing yards and eight more touchdowns in the playoffs. While the native San Diegan gashed and slashed Green Bay for 157 yards and three touchdowns—which earned him the game's MVP award—the play on which he took the field as a dizzy decoy will rank among the game's most memorable. "It showed his guts," said right guard Brian Habib. It also demonstrated the liberating effect Davis has had on Elway, whose fake handoff so gulled the Packers that the knock-kneed quarterback could have done the electric slide into the end zone.

Ninety minutes after the game, Elway cheerfully credited Davis for the deliverance of the franchise. "Since he's been here, my job has basically been to pick up third downs, to keep him on the field so I can hand him the ball," Elway said. "We got here on his back."

Davis's San Diego homecoming made for a nice story during the week before the game. Too bad Denver had no shot against Green Bay. That, at least, seemed to be the thinking of, among others, Packers defensive tackle Darius Holland, with whom Davis found himself out on the town five nights before the game. (They share an agent, Neil Schwartz.) At the House of Blues, Davis took the stage with Wyclef Jean of the Fugees and joined in the singing of Guantanamera. For his part, Holland amused himself by continuously thrusting his forearm into Davis's chest. When Davis finally asked Holland what the hell he was doing, the Packer said, "I want you to get used to how it's going to be on Sunday."

Not exactly. Poor Darius registered zero tackles. The closest he came to stopping Davis was late in the fourth quarter, when he was flagged for yanking the face mask of his friend.

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