- The Washington Times - Monday, January 7, 2002

The Washington Redskins offensive line wanted to get Stephen Davis the record, coach Marty Schottenheimer wanted the record. And Davis, for whom surpassing the 1,405-yard barrier to break his team record meant receiving a $750,000 bonus from the team, wanted the record.
With a 6-yard carry that pushed the Redskins offense closer to the end zone and a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter yesterday, Davis broke his previous standard. He then punctuated it with a 2-yard scoring run, after which he handed the ball to Ki-Jana Carter to save. And for good measure, he took the handoff on the 2-point conversion and rammed it up the middle for a 20-17 Redskins lead.
He finished with 148 yards on a career-high 38 carries and just his fifth touchdown of the season.
"It was pretty cold out there and it was raining. But we stayed with our game plan, ran the ball, and were physical," Davis said. "To go out and break the 1,400 yards, it was hard."
Davis needed only 13 games and part of a 14th to record his 1,405 yards in '99. However, this season may have been more impressive considering defenses geared up to stop him more this season because of the lack of a consistent downfield passing threat.
The mark had become a goal of the offensive linemen, whom Davis had treated to dinner after he went over 1,000 yards earlier this season. Tackle Jon Jansen first broached the subject to his teammates, and the bar was set.
Davis got his yards yesterday, and also nailed down the NFC rushing title by finishing with 1,432 yards.
"I didn't have as many touchdowns as I wish I could have, but to go out and finish the season with a victory, it feels good," Davis said.
Davis took a great deal of satisfaction in setting the record this season considering his slow start he failed to get more than 14 carries in any of the first four games.
When Davis got his carries this season, the Redskins won; they were 8-3 when he got more than 20 attempts; Davis recorded 893 rushing yards in their eight victories and 539 yards in their eight defeats.
Davis had 71 yards by halftime, but it was slow going in the second half, when the yards came much tougher on the slippery field. But when linebacker Antonio Pierce intercepted a Jake Plummer pass with 7:53 to go in the fourth quarter and Davis needed just eight yards for the record, he had his opportunity. With the ball on the Arizona 23, his carries came on gains of 1, 2, 4, 6, 1 and the 2-yard touchdown run. He then helped run out the clock with 18 more yards on the last drive.
"It's a major accomplishment to be a part of a record that will maybe be around a long time," said guard Dave Szott.

Next year
Already thinking about next season?
The Redskins will open their 2002 preseason on Aug.3 in Osaka, Japan, against San Francisco. Washington will also visit Carolina and Tampa Bay in the preseason while playing host to New England and Pittsburgh.
Under the NFL's revised alignment of eight four-team divisions, Washington will remain in the NFC East with Dallas, the New York Giants and Philadelphia and play each of those teams home-and-home. The Redskins will also welcome to Landover longtime divisional rival Arizona, which is moving to the NFC West, St. Louis, New Orleans, Indianapolis, and the expansion Houston Texans.
The Redskins' non-division road schedule includes San Francisco and Seattle of the NFC West, Jacksonville and Tennessee of the AFC South and Green Bay.
Washington hurt itself by beating Arizona to finish 8-8 and in second place in the NFC East. A loss would have dumped the Redskins to fourth place behind the Cardinals and New York Giants. In that event, Washington would have played Carolina (1-15) and Detroit (2-14) next season instead of the Packers (12-4) and Saints (7-9).

Draft day dreams
Yesterday's victory also dropped the Redskins considerably in the 2002 draft order. Washington will pick 19th.

Uncertain futures
Quarterback Tony Banks and defensive lineman Kenard Lang are among the Redskins' impending free agents who yesterday expressed a desire to remain with the team. However, they admitted they are at the mercy of Redskins management in terms of how a decision is reached.
"I'd like for whoever's on the Redskins' side of it to contact my agent that's generally what happens," Banks said. "But we'll see."
Of course, an uncertain offseason is old hat for Banks, who has played for four teams in six pro seasons.
"I have no idea [if Ill be back]," Banks said. "I felt reasonably confident that I would be playing in Dallas this year. If this league has taught me anything, it's that nothing is guaranteed."
The always quotable Lang, who was moved from defensive end to tackle by Schottenheimer, insinuated that his decision will be dictated by whom is coaching the Redskins. Lang said he would like to return but that depends on the defensive scheme and "how they're going to use it." Lang has made it clear he wants to return to defensive end.
He still had a strong season at tackle, finishing with 66 tackles and four sacks.
"I want to stay, I love it here," Lang said.

Parting words?
Seven-year veteran Michael Westbrook maintained that unless major changes are made in the offense, he is unlikely to return to the Redskins.
Westbrook had hinted he was not satisfied with the manner in which he was used this season, and reiterated yesterday.
"I can't come back to playing the role I played this year … My role would have to be bigger," Westbrook said. "I've been playing football for 20 years now, and it's just tough to come and have to play a small role. I've always been the best athlete wherever I've been and teams … have always respected that and tried to feed off the fact that I was the guy and I had a bigger role."
Westbrook said he will sit down with Marty Schottenheimer and Dan Snyder and "see where we go from there." Yesterday, he had five catches for 62 yards and finished with 57 receptions for 664 yards this season.
When asked to comment on his seven years as a Redskin, Westbrook said, "Barring injury, I dropped very few balls. When I was in the game, I played very well. Period."

Smith going or staying?
Bruce Smith said he will either return to the Redskins next season or retire. He will weigh a number of factors in the offseason and determine if he will return for an 18th season.
"If things happen according to improvements to the team, of course I want to return," Smith said. "I'm 38 years old. I've been blessed enough to have been in this league for 17 years. At this stage, I cannot afford to have opportunities like this pass us by. We should have been in the playoffs. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. The 0-5 start is what hurt us, so to speak, and we fought an uphill battle the whole way."
Smith said he needs to consider the livelihood of his family, particularly his son, Alston, and weigh the cost of spending another season away from them against retiring. He will consult his family and owner Dan Snyder among others.
Smith's five sacks this season were a career low (save for a 11/2-sack, injury-shortened season in 1991). He has 186 career sacks good for second on the career charts and still ranks second to Reggie White (198).
"I know what I want to do. I still have some football left, there's no question about that," Smith said. "It has to be the right situation."

Health watch
Quarterback Tony Banks and linebacker LaVar Arrington both suffered sprained knees. Banks' injury seemed more serious. Arrington is expected to play in the Pro Bowl on Feb. 9.
Meanwhile, running back Stephen Davis and guard Ben Coleman are expected to undergo offseason athroscopic knee surgeries in order to clean out deposits.

Inactives
Offensive tackles Terrence Simmons and Ross Tucker, defensive tackle Donovan Arp, guard Alex Sulfsted , linebacker Lemar Marshall and receivers Darnerien McCants and Justin Skaggs were inactive.
Duff Durkin, Rick Snider, David Elfin

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