Garber: Friends and runners

Birds plan to get dirty with TD

Focal Point: Super backs

Why the Broncos will win

Why the Falcons will win

Broncos ponder how to jam Jamal

Broncos: Terrell Davis' 18 flip

Numbers say Falcons will fly

Sean Salisbury's Super Bowl breakdown

ESPN experts' Super Bowl picks

Celebs divide loyalties for Super Bowl

  Saturday, Jan. 30 5:24pm ET
Davis about to rock Atlanta's world
By Greg Garber, special to

MIAMI -- History, football coaches like to say, means nothing.

 Terrell Davis
Terrell Davis has rushed for more yards in the '98 regular season and postseason than any back in NFL history.

Last year, the Green Bay Packers were favored to beat the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII by double digits. You might remember that the favorites lost 31-24 when Terrell Davis ran for 157 yards and scored three touchdowns.

On Sunday, history is going to repeat itself. Terrell Davis will run all over the Atlanta Falcons.

The shy and retiring John Elway has a single purpose: hand the ball off cleanly to Davis. That's about it.

"It's great standing behind there and watching him run," said Elway, desribing his role for the last two seasons. "He never ceases to amaze me."

Now that Michael Jordan has abdicated the throne, Davis is, for my money, the best athlete in the world. Is anyone even close to dominating a sport the way Davis has the last two seasons?

Who's left in the NBA? Scottie Pippen? Shaquile O'Neal? Will their teams be in the NBA Finals?

In baseball? Mark McGwire? Did the St. Cardinals even make the playoffs? If Seattle Mariners teammates Ken Griffey Jr., and Alex Rodriguez are so terrific, why were the Mariners so horrible?

Marion Jones? Dominik Hasek? David Duval?

  " I put pressure on myself. I set my own standards and goals, and each year I want to come back and do the best job I can do. "
-- Terrell Davis

Statistics are overrated and ridiculously subjective, but consider these:

  • Davis, 26, has run for more yards this season (2,374) than anyone in NFL history. The record he broke, 2,331 yards, was his own, set last year.

  • In Denver's first playoff game against Miami this season, Davis ran for an astounding 199 yards. In the AFC Championship against the Jets, Davis' total was 167 yards. That's an average of 183 yards against some of the NFL's best teams.

  • Did you know? That Davis has more touchdowns (61) in his first four seasons than anyone in league history.

  • OK, one more, my personal favorite.

    Here are the three best all-time averages per game:

    That's how good Terrell Davis really is.

    "The one thing I do is that I never let people put pressure on me," Davis says, "I put pressure on myself. I set my own standards and goals, and each year I want to come back and do the best job I can do. For me, my goals are long term, rather than short-term goals.

    "I've always said that when I leave this game, I want to leave my signature on it. By doing that, I can come back each year and be the best I can be. That's just the way I think right now."

    Atlanta linebacker Jessie Tuggle is the dean of the Falcons defense. He understands what they're up against.

    "Obviously," Tuggle says, "Terrell is the ultimate challenge for our defense. To try to go out there and stop him would be almost impossible. What we want to do is contain him."

    Generally speaking, it takes a front seven to stop a running back. The Falcons will probably need eight on a regular basis.

    "What the Vikings did was play a lot of eight-man fronts -- to bring the safeties down in order to contain Jamal (Anderson)," Tuggle says. "But with us, we're going to play some eight-man fronts, but at the same time, we're not going to depend on that. We're going to try to do it with the front seven, but if we're not having any success, then obviously we'll rotate the safeties down to try to put a little more pressure on them and force them to pass the ball."

    There is a consensus surrounding Super Bowl XXXIII. The team that runs the ball most effectively will win. Period.

    Well, while Davis was stoning Miami and New York, the Broncos run defense held the Dolphins and Jets to 13 carries and 14 yards -- each. Davis is a better runner than Anderson, and he faces a more lenient defense.

    It's not hard to see how this one is going to play out.

    Davis is "The Man," and he knows it.

    "I tell myself, 'I have to be the rock,' " Davis says. "I have to be the rock."

    On Sunday, he will be.

    Greg Garber, a regular contributor to's NFL coverage, will write a daily column during Super Bowl week.

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