Do we dare call this game a ‘miracle’? For all the noise and hype surrounding the new vogue move of ‘Tebowing’, every fourth quarter for the Denver Broncos brings more unexplainable phenomenon surrounding their unique quarterback. Tim Tebow doesn’t falter in the face of his critics. In fact, he almost appears to embrace them, bringing such affability to an NFL post game press conference it’s sometimes hard to believe that we just watched teams of grown men return from the only legal form of assault. In our current media-driven societal desire for heroes and goats, Tebow has become the face of the Denver resurgence, yet it would seem that there isn’t a single scout, coach or NFL executive who would be ready to hand him the credit for it. Not even Tebow himself attempts to lay claim to being the reason the Broncos are 4-1 with him at the helm. How could he? For every person judging future NFL talent, these numbers would sit somewhere between practice squad and out of football: 56 completions in 125 attempts, for 709 yards in eight games, five of which he started. Yet Tebow has accounted for seven passing touchdowns, three rushing touchdowns while turning the ball over just once. Two times those touchdowns came in the last five minutes of the game, and rescued his team from certain defeat. Against Miami, Tebow engineered drives that delivered 17 unanswered points, 14 of which came in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter and pushed the game into overtime.
Watching Tebow score the game-winning touchdown this past Thursday night, the camera found John Elway, a former scrambling quarterback himself, standing and applauding. Never can I remember seeing a more confounded look grace a GM’s face after winning a ball game. His first-round quarterback, who managed just nine completions in 20 attempts and a measly 104 yards, outshined the Jets first-round quarterback, who put up 252 yards of passing offense, but was picked off for the most essential touchdown of the game. Mark Sanchez looked hapless, shaken, had happy feet and couldn’t get a sustained drive going most of the game. Tebow looked confident, unflappable, and in the final minutes unstoppable. Yet in Elway’s mind he has to be wondering what happens if the new Dennis Allen defense collapses. All game long they tortured and harassed Mark Sanchez, kept both Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress from making big plays, and forced two turnovers. It might have been three had Jets offensive lineman Matt Slauson not noticed Bilal Powell’s fumble laying on the one yard line first. Von Miller has been a man possessed lately, and one Tebow certainly won’t try to exorcise the demons from.
Come draft season can John Elway and John Fox reason that this offense could ever win a game against a team like the Patriots or the Steelers? Can they deny conventional knowledge and scouting reports because they are winning and stick with Tebow through years of below average play if he can deliver nine or ten wins. If they don’t draft a quarterback, they’ll be doing just that, and pinning their jobs on Tebow’s intangibles. If they do draft a quarterback, and he can’t win football games, they’ll look like fools for impeding the growth of a kid who has done nothing but win all his life.
Rex Ryan stood at the microphone post game and could barely put into words what was going on in his head. Sure, having to go to Denver and play in that altitude on four days rest stinks. Losing your starting running back to a rib injury didn’t help his game plan. But he wore a look of a defeated man, the kind coaches usually wear at the end of their long tenures, when they decide the game has passed them by. He had no answer for how Tebow beat his vaunted Jets defense into the ground nearly single-handedly on that final 95 yard, clock-bleeding drive.
And that made him no different than any of us.