Are you kidding me? Did Tim Tebow really do it again? The answer is a resounding YES. Tebow and the Denver Broncos shocked the Pittsburgh Steelers and the football world in classical Sunday thriller. Again, Tebow finished below the 50% completion mark, but he threw for 316 yards, two touchdowns and ran for one. No one has been able to explain the magic that takes place in the “Mile High City” that has taken place since Tebow took over the Broncos were they were 1-4. Let’s see if we can find some answers.
There have been many people who have been critical of Tebow since he entered the NFL last season. He started the last three games of the 2010-2011 season and put up some decent numbers, going 1-2 over those three games. Entering this season, Tebow was the “4th string” quarterback according to John Elway and head coach John Fox. When starter Kyle Orton went 1-4 in the first five games of the season, Fox and Elway turned to their “4th string” quarterback to see if he could inject some life into this team. Well, Tebow did a bit more than that.
The magic started when Tebow led the Broncos on a 4th quarter comeback in Miami against the Dolphins. The Broncos scored 15 points in the 4th, and ended up winning the game in overtime with a field goal. The Son was born. However, the next week, the Broncos got pummeled by the Detroit Lions at home, 45-10. But over the next six weeks, Tebow led the Broncos to six straight victories (two in overtime), and one end of regulation game-winning drive against the New York Jets. The Broncos went win-less in their last three regular season games, getting blown out by New England and Buffalo, and losing 7-3 to Kansas City.
At times, Tebow looked absolutely atrocious at the quarterback position. He elongated-release makes for bad timing when receivers come out of their breaks, it gives defensive backs more time to react, and it just doesn’t look good. It’s not like watching Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, or Peyton Manning throw a football. His completion percentage, at season’s end, was 46.5%. He threw for 1,729 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. He ran for 660 yards and six touchdowns on 122 rushing attempts, losing two fumbles. But we don’t judge quarterbacks on what they do or don’t do in the regular season. We judge them on what they do in the playoffs. And what Tebow did on Sunday, against all odds, was just flat-out indescribable.
The Steelers had the #1 overall defense in the league coming into the game today. They knew they would be playing without safety Ryan Clark, who is a difference-maker in the secondary. Clark was unable to play because he has sickle-cell and playing in the Denver air could potentially put his life in danger. Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall was also out with a torn ACL and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was playing on an ankle that was not 100%. But I am not going to make excuses for the defending AFC champs. The Steelers, without Mendenhall, ran the ball just fine, finishing with 156 yards on the ground (Issac Redman had 121 yards). The reason the Steelers lost this game was because they didn’t finish their drives.
In the first quarter the Steelers kicked two field goals. Pittsburgh got the ball inside the Broncos’ 20-yard line once in the first quarter and had to kick a field goal. On another drive Pittsburgh got the ball inside the Broncos’ 25-yard line and had to settle for another field goal. The Broncos countered Pittsburgh’s two field goals with two touchdowns and two field goals. The Broncos went into halftime, up 20-6. But you knew the Steelers would not go quietly.
Pittsburgh outscored Denver in the second half, 17-6, and the game would head to overtime tied at 23-all. But, the Steelers knew that as soon as they lost the coin-toss, they had lost the game. The way Tebow has won games in the 4th quarter and overtime has been amazing. He always makes two “big-time” plays that help secure a victory for his team. Whether it’d be Tebow running for a touchdown in the closing seconds or setting up kicker Matt Prater to kick the game-winning field goal, Tebow always finds a way. Always.
Denver won the coin-toss and one the first play from their own 20-yard line, Tebow hit Demaryius Thomas on double-move for an 80-yard touchdown pass. Tebow-mania erupted. There is no way you can possibly explain all the events that have happened because of Tebow or in spite of him this season. ESPN: First Take’s Skip Bayless has sent fans into rage because he always sticks up for Tebow. He was on the Tebow-band-wagon since Day 1 and always argues for Tebow. He has turned many people, not just at ESPN, but around the NFL, into believers of Tebow. He “finds” a way to win games and does it so unconventionally that it makes [John] Elway cringe.
They said he would never amount to anything in the NFL. They said his unconventional style of play, rugged-running mixed with terrible accuracy, would never work. Well, they just beat the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers, albeit at home. But, somehow, he did it again and he managed to do it in the playoffs.
There will always be doubters and haters. But when you compete, all that matters is if you come out on top. Tebow has certainly been able to do that.