CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Stephen Davis' first play as a Carolina Panther was a 13-yard catch in front of the Washington Redskins bench.
Take that Steve Spurrier.
Davis, released last winter after seven seasons in Washington because Spurrier didn't think he fit into the Redskins' offense, showed he's found a happy home in Carolina with a strong performance in the Panthers' 20-0 preseason victory.
Davis ran for 74 yards on seven carries.
"Stephen must have averaged 20 yards a carry," Spurrier said. "He was running right through us."
Davis didn't reach the end zone for Carolina, but he reeled off 34-yard gain the third time he touched the ball. He had all his yardage well before the end of the first quarter and took pleasure in proving to Spurrier he's still one of the top running backs in the NFL.
"People got their own opinions," Davis said of Spurrier. "It felt good. It felt great. I went about it like I was playing anybody, and did I make a statement? Yeah. And I'll make a bigger statement in the regular season."
Davis helped Carolina to its first win ever over Washington. The Panthers are 0-6 in regular season games against the Redskins, and had been 0-1 in preseason matchups.
At first glance, the running back appeared to be everything the Panthers were looking for when they signed him to carry the ball at least 25 times a game.
"Deep down inside, he wanted to show them they're missing something without him there," quarterback Rodney Peete said.
Buoyed by an improved offensive line - first-round draft pick Jordan Gross started at right tackle - Davis was able to find holes not normally there for the Panthers.
On a 17-yard gain on his second series, he appeared to be stopped at the line of scrimmage, but cut left for a big gain.
It took the pressure off Peete, fighting a four-way battle for the right to keep his starting quarterback spot.
"We're a team that wants to run the ball, we didn't do that successfully last year," Peete said. "That's why we got him. He opens up so many things for the rest of us."
Peete hooked up with Muhsin Muhammad on three passes for 41 yards, setting up field goals of 24-yards by Shayne Graham and 28-yards by John Kasay to give Carolina a 6-0 lead.
Rod Smart added a 2-yard touchdown run to make it 13-0 in the third quarter, Skip Hicks scored on a 4-yard run to make it 20-0.
Washington, meanwhile, looked a world away from the preseason team it was last year.
Spurrier threw everything he had into the preseason last year, his first as an NFL coach, and led the Redskins to a 4-1 mark while they set a record with 164 total points scored.
He admitted last week all that focus on meaningless games was a mistake, and removed the emphasis from the final score this year.
That's a good thing after the way the Redskins played against Carolina.
Patrick Ramsey started the game and played an unimpressive first quarter, going 2-for-6 for 57 yards. The bulk of his yardage came on a 48-yard pass to Laveranues Coles, Washington's new $35 million receiver.
Aside from that play, the Redskins sputtered and stalled out on most drives.
"They beat us in about every phase," Spurrier said. "Give those guys the credit, they dominated us. We're very disappointed because they beat us every which way."
Rob Johnson, who replaced Ramsey in the second quarter, fumbled when he was sacked by Brian Allen and Carolina's Kavika Pittman recovered.
Later, his 7-yard TD pass to Patrick Johnson was nullified by a holding penalty. Matt Simonton, signed Friday after kicker John Hall strained his groin, missed a 35-yard field goal attempt to keep the Redskins scoreless in the first half.
Rob Johnson finished 10-for-16 for 107 yards and was intercepted once when Al Wallace tipped his pass at the line and Pittman caught it.
Danny Wuerffel, battling Johnson for the right to back up Ramsey, went 4-for-9 for 58 yards in limited action.
Carolina's quarterback battle wasn't exactly thrilling, either.
Jake Delhomme, signed after five years as a backup in New Orleans, went 3-for-5 for 43 yards in the second quarter.
Chris Weinke, trying to reclaim the starting job he had in 2001, played late into the fourth quarter and led the Panthers on its two touchdown drives. He finished 8-of-11 for 69 yards.
The Associated Press News Service
Copyright 2003, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved