Just call him the Mile-High Messiah. The Big Tebowski. The Docile Apostle. Throw whichever moniker you prefer on him, but Denver Bronco quarterback Tim Tebow is serving up dinner at tables across America this week (in spirit, of course), and the main entree is a healthy helping of crow.
On Sunday, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner got his first start of the season–and fourth of his young career–and led the Broncos to a stunning 18-15 comeback victory over the Miami Dolphins in overtime.
Trailing by 15 points with just over five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter on the road (although it was “Tim Tebow Day” at Sun Life Stadium), Tebow rallied the troops with an 80-yard touchdown drive.
But “Touchdown Jesus” was just getting started.
With the help of the Dolphins’ Marion Moore, who couldn’t help but bobble the onside kick with God pulling the strings from above, Tebow got the ball, and a short field, with 2:43 to go.
Down by eight, Tebow sliced and diced his way down the field, scrambling around in the pocket and completing passes like he was the next coming of John Elway in Denver. Except after Tebow had finished running for his two-point conversion to send the game into overtime, and Matt Prater split the uprights from 52 yards, the boy who spends his summers helping orphans in the Philippines did in his first four games what Elway took 15 years to accomplish–rally from at least 13 points down in the fourth quarter. Twice.
Don’t get me wrong, the Tebow worshippers need to take a step back and slow down with the signs (they also might want to consider how much they really want a man’s sweaty pair of pants) because they ought to be supporting the real hero of the game, Mr. Anthony Sparano III. I know he doesn’t need me to tell him, but he really shouldn’t have gone for two when an extra point would have worked just fine.
And even though I’m no offensive coordinator–although I may be calling plays soon enough at the annual Stanford Daily vs. Daily Californian touch football showdown, the Ink Bowl–I don’t think that running the ball three straight times with a starting tailback who was averaging 2.8 yards per carry was the best option to get a critical first down.
And of course, there is the fact that Tebow was God-awful for the first 55 minutes of the game. You don’t need to be Jon Gruden to know that 4-14 for 40 yards without a third-down conversion in 10 attempts is bad. Really, really bad.
Before Timmy got his groove back, the Broncos were in danger of being shut out for the first time in 20 years. And a lot of it was Tebow’s fault.
His mechanics were shaky at best, he held on to the ball too long, he was sacked seven times and plenty of his throws were in danger of being unintentional intentional groundings. That gives those who love to hate Tim’s religious antics and goody two-shoes act (which, for the record, I don’t think is an act) plenty of fuel for the fire.
But until he starts to lose, let’s give him some props. Because I love cliches, and Tebow fulfills about a million of them, chief among them #winning ugly. But who cares, because as soon as Sparano decided he didn’t want to stay employed, and the Miami defense figured letting Tebow part their secondary like the Red Sea was the best way to get on SportsCenter, it was #Tebow time.
There are plenty of noble campaigns going on around the NFL to land our own savior, Mr. Luck, in the Draft this spring. Seattle is doing its damndest to lose out after somehow losing track of who it was and knocking off the G-Men.
And Minnesota, Indianapolis and St. Louis are all fighting hard to prove they don’t like winning either. (I will give the Rams a pass, however, as they already have their quarterback of the future in Sam Bradford.)
But the Broncos have so many other problems that quarterback is actually not the highest priority on their list. Plenty of people slammed Tebow’s “comeback” as irrelevant because of how bad the Dolphins are, combined with his terrible performance for most of the game.
Perhaps they forget that Denver is pretty damn bad. No offense, but right now the Rocky Mountains would be a much better defense than anything Dennis Allen can put on the field. And speaking of offense, it’s usually not a good sign when your leading receiver averages fewer than 50 yards a game. Actually, that’s a really bad sign.
So perhaps the Broncos ought to look to shore up their offensive line, which is very much like a sieve, and let the young man do his scrambling, twisting, erratic-throw thing. I’m going to go out on a limb and say the Broncos just might make the playoffs, and why not, even win a game in January. And if that happens, he’ll probably need more miracles on Sundays, and I sure as hell think you could have worse characters under center. (Umm, Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger, anyone?)
So maybe the Broncos don’t need Luck. After all, they’ve got Timmaayyyyy.
Miles has worn nothing but Jockey since Timmy became the company spokesman. Share your love for Tebow-indorsed cotton (and your favorite Bible passage) at milesbs “at” stanford.edu and check him out on Twitter @smilesbsmith.