- The Washington Times - Monday, November 5, 2001

When Washington began the year with four straight defeats, the "Believe In Stephen" motto of the Redskins' 1999 NFC East title season seemed as distant a memory as Griffith Stadium. If first-year offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye saw two-time Pro Bowl running back Stephen Davis as a workhorse, he had a funny way of showing it.
Davis carried the ball just twice after halftime in Week 4 at Giants Stadium even though the Redskins and New York Giants were deadlocked after three quarters. With Washington at 0-4, Davis was averaging just 13 carries and 55 yards.
"Everyone in the United States knew for us to be successful, we had to give Stephen the ball more," said Redskins center Cory Raymer.
Redskins sources said that after the loss to the Giants, first-year coach Marty Schottenheimer told Raye, his longtime coordinator in Kansas City, to do just that.
So beginning the following week at Dallas, Raye began to ride Davis as much as former coach/offensive coordinator Norv Turner had done the previous two years. Even when Davis lost the crucial fumble that cost the Redskins a victory over the Cowboys, the coach stuck with his runner. Davis has repaid the compliment with unprecedented production.
In Washington's 27-14 pounding of Seattle yesterday at FedEx Field, Davis powered for 142 yards on 32 carries. Only twice had he carried more often or gained more yards. The big day gave Davis his most productive four-game stretch as a Redskin with an average of 112 yards on 28 carries. It's far from coincidental that Washington is 3-1 with Davis running so well.
"The thing that we have been battling over the first part of this season is time of possession," Schottenheimer said. "We had it almost 40 minutes [39:18] today. That's how you win. We like to run the ball. If you can run the ball in this league, you have a good chance of winning. Stephen is as good a runner as I've been around and I've been around good ones: Marcus Allen, Christian Okoye, Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack."
Raye and Schottenheimer liked Davis so much yesterday that they fed the 6-foot, 235-pound former Auburn star the ball on eight straight plays during the second quarter.
"Stephen is a special back," said right guard Ben Coleman. "We're going to feed him until he can't eat anymore."
The eighth play gave Davis the treat he has been seeking all year: a 1-yard touchdown run, Davis and Washington's first rushing score of 2001.
"All week y'all been saying that [cornerback/receiver] Champ Bailey was the last guy to rush for a touchdown [in last years finale]," Davis said. "My main goal in this game was to score a touchdown."
But he did so much more than that against the NFL's fifth-ranked run defense.
"Give the Redskins credit; they jammed it down our throats," said Seattle coach Mike Holmgren.
Said Davis: "The whole week everybody has been saying you can't run on these guys. We went out there and proved them wrong. It's all about opportunities. The more I get the ball, the more I get comfortable and get into a groove."
In running for 2,723 yards fourth in the NFL the previous two seasons, Davis had never found a groove as good as his current one. Yesterday, that groove lifted him ahead of former teammate Terry Allen and into third place on the Redskins' all-time rushing list with 4,204 yards. Only Larry Brown (5,875) and Hall of Famer John Riggins (7,472) remain ahead of him.
"Stephen is running as good or better than I've ever seen him," said third-year offensive tackle Jon Jansen. "He's seeing the holes, making the cuts, making guys miss."


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