|We're Tracking Tebow … because it's impossible not to watch.|
Posted by Ryan Wilson
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has a saying: Style points don't matter. The Broncos should patent the phrase, or at the very least, make it a part of their 2011 marketing strategy: "The Denver Broncos: Where Style Points Don't Matter … but Winning Does."
Of course, Tim Tebow doesn't need much help selling this team to the locals -- and now the rest of the nation. Not after his latest comeback performance, one that included a "Yep, we're running and you can't stop us" game plan against Rex Ryan, the guy who literally wrote the book on defending the read-option.
|Artist rendering of the Broncos' new helmet.|
It happened in Tebow's first start of the season, Week 7 in Miami; he couldn't have looked worse through three quarters and two-thirds of another. And then, as if somebody flipped the switch on the electric football game, Tebow made plays with his arm and his feet (mostly his feet), and he had the ball in his hands for the decisive score.
Which was pretty much the script to the sequal we saw Thursday night against the Jets. Tebow drove the Broncos 95 yards with just over five minutes on the clock, and he scored on a 20-yard quarterback keeper that everybody knew was coming but no one could stop.
Like the Dolphins game, a solid Jets defensive effort was wasted on one ill-timed lapse that resulted in a Tebow score.
With 1:06 on the clock, the Jets leading 13-10, and the Broncos facing a 3rd and 4 from the New York 20, Tebow lined up in the shotgun. The Jets brought eight men to the line of scrimmage because there was no way Tebow would throw the ball. Too many things could go wrong. Plus, if the Jets stopped him, Denver could kick a field goal, tie the score, and take it to overtime.
Jets safety Eric Smith was on the line of scrimmage, lined up to the outside of the tight end on the right side of the formation (Tebow's left). His job was to keep Tebow from getting outside the pocket, instead forcing him into the middle of the field where, in theory, other Jets defenders would be waiting to make the tackle. Smith didn't do his job, he lost contain, Tebow beat him to the corner, and 20 yards later, that was that. Ball game.
|The dotted lines are what should've happened -- Smith contains Tebow, forcing him inside. The solid lines are what actually happened: Smith took a horrible angle, Tebow scored (you can see a video of the play below).|
“When you look at it, it’s a tough thing on him,” Jets head coach Ryan said during the post-game presser when asked about Smith’s angle. “I’ll just say this, it’s a tough assignment. There is no question. Quite honestly, I’ll take Eric Smith every day of the week. He’s a tremendous player. Could we have said, ‘Hey, [have] him be wider? Should the end be wider? Everybody be wider.’ Maybe you could’ve, but you have to give Tebow credit. He made the play. I will say this, Eric sold out. Eric laid it on the line for us and we came up a little empty. [He] made a diving stab at him, but he never quite got him on the ground. Again, when you look at it, I think it’s easy to obviously second-guess, but we need to start looking forward, instead of behind us.”
Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey had a different take.
"When I saw that all-out blitz, I was like, 'That is so stupid,' " he said. "They hadn't really done that all day. Once he broke the contain, that's a wrap."
Last week, Tebow was 2 for 8 and the Broncos ran the ball 55 times (mostly featuring the read-option), and beat the Chiefs. Thursday, by our unofficial count, the Broncos ran conventional running plays 15 times and went with some form of the option (both run and pass) 22 times. Tebow finished the evening 9 for 20 for 104 yards, and added 68 yards on the ground on eight carries.
Before The (New) Drive, the Jets defense held Tebow to 6 of 15 passing for 69 yards, and two carries for 11 more over 11 drives. Those 11 drives resulted in eight punts, a turnover on downs, a fumble and a field goal. And then the alarm sounded…
Lost amid all the post-game revelry and Tebowing is something we pointed out on Friday's Pick-6 Podcast (see podcast player above): the real MVP of the game was rookie linebacker Von Miller. He harassed Mark Sanchez from start to finish, and if not for the play of the Broncos' defense, Tebow never would've been in position score the winning touchdown.
But they did and he was. And now the Broncos are 5-5.
Denver has as legit shot to win the AFC West because it's a weak division, but also because through Tebow, all things are possible.
No, it ain't pretty, but style points don't matter, remember?
Play by Play
(Note: Below are the plays -- both running and passing -- involving Tebow. You can view the entire play-by-play breakdown here)
Added bonus: a handy bar graph showing us what our eyes tell us every week. As pass attempts go down, QB rating -- and more importantly -- rushing attempts go up. And the Broncos win.
“He did it. Tim Tebow did it. He shocked me, he probably shocked a lot of people, but he did it. We played them well through the whole game, until that last play. We played them well. Tim Tebow's legs took them to victory, ran them to victory." - Jets CB Darrelle Revis.
"Everybody looks at him from the outside. They don't see what he has on the inside. Yeah, he might not be the greatest passer. But give him a chance at the end? I've never seen anything like it." - Broncos CB Champ Bailey
"It's a lot easier to believe when you see results. That's the biggest (win) I've been a part of. At 1-4, it was very gloomy. Now, our confidence is huge." - Broncos CB Andre Goodman
Some props for Miller:
“As far as (Jets right tackle) Wayne Hunter was concerned, he was going up against an outstanding football player. Von Miller, I think, will be a Pro Bowl player this year. If not this year, he’ll be one next year. And that’s going to be tough on anybody. I thought Wayne, for the most part, did a nice job on him, but he did get Wayne a couple of times. There’s no question about that. [Miller’s] just an outstanding player and those things happen. It’s unfortunate, but Wayne might block him for 90 percent of the time, but the 10 percent that the guy got the better of Wayne are the ones that everybody is going to be focused on.” - Jets head coach Rex Ryan
Speaking of Miller…
"Tebow magic. I believe in it. I feel so happy that he's having the success that he's having. I'm glad he's able to shut up his critics. It seems like everybody wants to bash him. They don't take into account his will." - Broncos LB Von Miller
Here are the moving-pictures of that final, fateful Broncos drive:
Stop. Tebow Time.
John Elway, like everybody else on the planet, doesn't know what to make of Tebow:
Elway and Tebow: two styles, same result (layin' it on a bit thick, we know).
Tebow on brushing off his doubters (of which there are many, though their numbers are dwindling):
Tim Tebow led another fourth-quarter comeback drive ending with a 20-yard touchdown run in the final minute, to lift the Broncos over the Jets 17-13 on Thursday night. Tebow had a few choice words for his critics.
A despondent Rex Ryan talks after the Thursday night loss:
The Jets may need to win out to have a chance at the playoffs.
Eye on Tebow
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