- The Washington Times - Monday, October 7, 2002

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Stephen Davis has accomplished plenty in his three-plus years as the Washington Redskins' No.1 running back: an NFC rushing title, a trio of 1,300-yard seasons, two Pro Bowl berths and 35 touchdowns.
The gutsy performance by Davis against the Tennessee Titans yesterday ranks with all of those impressive numbers.
Davis already had carried five times for 31 yards when he stayed in to pass-block on a first-down play late in the first quarter. Davis was blocking blitzing Titans cornerback Donald Mitchell when Redskins left guard David Loverne stepped on his foot. Davis' right leg twisted in ugly fashion, and he crumpled to the ground.
"Any time that your workhorse goes down, it's got to be a little bit frightening," said Redskins receiver Kevin Lockett.
The Redskins had good cause for alarm. They were desperate for a victory after ugly losses to the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers. Starting quarterback Danny Wuerffel injured his right shoulder on the first offensive series and was lost for the game. And now it appeared they also were going to be deprived of Davis, their biggest weapon.
As Davis was treated on the field by the team's medical staff, coach Steve Spurrier walked out to check on his star. Davis had to be helped to the sideline, and Kenny Watson, who had just four NFL carries, took over.
"I was scared. I felt something pop. I knew something was wrong," Davis said. "But we have some great trainers. At halftime, we realized it wasn't as serious as we had thought. I asked if I could play with it, and they said it would be sore. But I wanted to get back out there with my teammates."
Davis showed no signs of being hampered in the second half. He carried 13 times for 59 yards and a touchdown and caught a 14-yard scoring pass from Lockett to help power the Redskins to an impressive 31-14 victory. If Davis hadn't been hurt, he surely would have become just the sixth back in 58 games to gain more than 100 yards against a Titans defense that came in ranked fifth in the league against the run.
"I wouldn't call it being a warrior," said Davis, who has missed just three games since succeeding Terry Allen as the starting halfback in 1999. "We all get paid to play. We all love the game. You want to play whether you're injured or not, so I went back out there and I played."
Team sources said that Davis' injury might be more severe than he let on and could sideline him for Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints. Davis downplayed the toughness he showed by returning to the game, but his teammates definitely appreciated his effort.
"For [Stephen] to come back that quickly from the injury shows you that he has a lot of heart," Lockett said. "All he wants to do is win. It's not about stats or money."
The Redskins trailed 14-10 when Davis returned to action on the fifth play of the third quarter. He powered for 7 yards on his first carry of the half on what would be the first of three consecutive touchdown drives of 70 yards or more for the Redskins in the second half. Davis scored two of those touchdowns, one on a 1-yard run, the other on the option pass from Lockett.
"It took forever," Davis said with a grin. "The whole time, I was saying [to myself], 'Don't drop this ball.' We've been working on that play for the last three weeks. I didn't think we were going to run it. When it was called, it was like, 'Whoa.' I didn't know Kevin had dropped the [lateral from quarterback Patrick Ramsey], but I heard everybody screaming and wondered, 'Oh, man, what happened?'"
But Lockett recovered the ball and found Davis wide open for the score just the latest example of why "Believe in Stephen" continues to be a motto for the Redskins.
"The type of player that Stephen is, when he sucks it up like that he can certainly give the team a boost," said 18th-year defensive end Bruce Smith. "He lit a fire under some of the guys."
Yet another reason why despite all the focus on the quarterbacks, those in the know at Redskin Park understand Washington's offense always works best when it's built around Davis.


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