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The Key Drive

January 26, 1998|BILL DWYRE

On first down, Darius Holland's 15-yard facemask penalty jump-started Denver's final drive to the winning touchdown. The score was tied, 24-24. Green Bay's Craig Hentrich had just punted 39 yards to the Packer 49, leaving John Elway and the Broncos 3 minutes 27 seconds to drive 49 yards for a lead, or, more likely, a winning score.


Elway handed to his ace, running back Terrell Davis. Davis had already scored two touchdowns and was on his way to becoming the game's most valuable player. He started left, swung wide and found himself being chased by Packer reserve defensive end Holland. The fleet Davis, a man of many moves, made a key one on Holland, juking him inside and then swinging wider to the left. All that was left for Holland to do was reach at the streak about to go around him, and the only part he was able to get hold of was Davis' facemask.

Fifteen yards later, from the point of the foul, Elway and the Broncos were at the Packer 32, first and 10.


Davis is not only quick, but strong.

"I was just hoping, when they threw the flag," said Holland's teammate, defensive back Eugene Robinson, "that they weren't going to see it as flagrant as they called it. Terrell is not only shifty out there, but he is strong. He kept making positive yards, no matter how hard we hit him, and we hit him hard.

"He even kept making some yards on that play, even with Darius hanging onto his facemask. Strong, shifty . . . man, that's hard to stop."


Fritz Shurmur, Packer defensive coordinator, had a game-long problem, since his starting defensive right end, Gabe Wilkins, was injured in the first half. That put Holland under the microscope, because the player on the other end of the Packer line, Reggie White, is generally feared by all and avoided by most.

So lots of plays were going to come Holland's way. Shurmur knew that.

"We tried to get extra help over there for him," Shurmur said. "We sent some extra guys over there, because we knew they'd run away from Reggie."

Shurmur also said, "I didn't see the penalty, but it certainly was a huge play. It turned what looked like a loss into a huge chunk of field position."


Davis said the obvious: "He grabbed me pretty good. I knew the flag would be out."


First, the obvious: Denver scored five plays later and won the Super Bowl, winning for the AFC for the first time in 14 years and only the second in 17.

The sequence of events after the penalty:

* On first down from the Green Bay 32, Davis swept the right side for one yard.

* Elway then found Howard Griffith for a 23-yard completion up the left sideline to the Green Bay nine-yard line and a first down.

* With only two minutes to play, Davis took the ball to the Green Bay one-yard line, but Shannon Sharpe was called for a holding penalty, pushing the ball back to the Green Bay 18, temporarily halting the Bronco drive.

* In perhaps the key play of the drive, Davis again put the Broncos on his back and swept the left side for a 17-yard run to the one.

* Davis scored on the next play.

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