Terrell Davis: The Greatest Postseason Performer in NFL History

Bryn Swartz@eaglescentralSenior Writer IIIJanuary 20, 2010

26 Sep 1999: Terrell Davis #30 of the Denver Broncos carries the ball during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida. The Buccaneers defeated the Broncos 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons  /Allsport
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

It's amazing how much quarterbacks are primarily judged on their postseason play while the performances of the other 52 players on the team are largely ignored.

Does anybody besides Peyton Manning know that Marvin Harrison is one of the worst postseason players in NFL history? Or that Barry Sanders went from a superstar to just an average running back in the playoffs?

Nope. Only quarterbacks are judged by the playoffs.

That's why not a lot of people know that Terrell Davis might be the single best postseason performer in NFL history.

In just eight games, Davis turned in numbers which would earn him an automatic Pro Bowl selection.

Davis's first taste of postseason action came in the divisional round of the 1996 playoffs, as he rushed for 91 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, while catching seven passes. However, the Broncos were upset by the surprising Jacksonville Jaguars, bringing the season to an abrupt end.

Davis established himself as the AFC's best running back during the 1997 season, leading the high-powered Broncos to a 12-4 mark and a wild-card berth.

In the postseason, Davis turned in four of the most impressive games by a running back in NFL history.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

He rushed for over 100 yards in each game, with a high of 184 in the wild-card round in a rematch against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He averaged an astounding 5.28 yards per carry, topping five yards per carry in three of the four games.

After blowing out the Jaguars and narrowly defeating both the Kansas City Chiefs and the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road, the Broncos advanced to their fourth Super Bowl in franchise history.

The Broncos had previously played in four Super Bowls, losing each by an average of 28 points per game. The Packers were led by three-time MVP Brett Favre and had just won the Super Bowl the previous season. So it came as no surprise that the Broncos were picked as 11-point underdogs.

Super Bowl XXXII will always be remembered as the signature game of Davis's short career.

Despite missing practically the entire second quarter with a severe migraine, Davis managed incredibly to rush for 157 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries.

Terrell Davis's third touchdown came with 1:43 to play, giving the Broncos a 31-24 lead. It was his third one-yard touchdown of the game, and after the defense stopped Brett Favre and the Packers on a fourth-down conversion with under a minute to play, the Broncos were the champions of the world.

Davis captured Most Valuable Players honors, capping off an unbelievable postseason in which he rushed for a total of 581 yards and eight touchdowns. Both were records for a single postseason.

Davis earned Most Valuable Player honors and led the Broncos to 14 victories during the 1998 regular season. This time, the Broncos earned home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

Davis led the Broncos to commanding victories over the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets, rushing for a total of 366 yards and three touchdowns on just 53 carries (6.91 YPA).

The Broncos advanced to their second consecutive Super Bowl, where they faced the powerful Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons boasted the NFL's second ranked run defense and the best by an NFC team since the 1995 San Francisco 49ers.

Davis topped 100 yards for the seventh consecutive game, leading the Broncos to a solid 34-19 victory. The Broncos became the first AFC team to win back-to-back Super Bowl titles since the Pittsburgh Steelers almost 20 years earlier.

Davis suffered through three very injury-plagued seasons before retiring from football after the 2002 preseason. His last postseason game was Super Bowl XXXIII.

Throughout his record-setting postseason career, Davis failed to rush for 100 yards in just one of his eight games. He averaged 143 rushing yards per game and scored an incredible 12 touchdowns, an average of one-and-a-half per game.

Projected over a full season, his numbers would be as follows: 408 carries, 2280 yards (5.59 YPA), and 24 touchdowns.

His 408 rushing attempts would be the third highest single-season total in NFL history. His 2280 rushing yards would shatter Eric Dickerson's single-season record of 2105 yards, and his 24 rushing touchdowns would be tied for the fifth best single-season total.

Even his 5.59 yards per carry would be one of the most impressive totals in NFL history, and incredibly, these numbers came against some of the most dominant defenses in the National Football League.

Davis faced an above average defense in all but one of his starts. Five times he faced a top five defense, where his numbers improved to 145 yards and 1.625 touchdowns per game. Twice he faced the NFL's number one defense, averaging 150 yards and two touchdowns.

The tougher the competition, the better Davis performed, and for just three seasons and a span of eight games, Davis was arguably the single most dominant postseason player in NFL history.

slash iconYour sports. Delivered.

Enjoy our content? Join our newsletter to get the latest in sports news delivered straight to your inbox!