On January 8th, 2009, Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators faced off against the Oklahoma Sooners and Sam Bradford in the national championship game. Tebow, continuing a tradition he had started that year, wore the Bible verse, "John 3:16" on his eye black during the game. The verse states:
"For God so loved the world, He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life."
That verse was the number one search trend on Google thereafter, and Tebow's Gators went on to beat Oklahoma 24-14.
Exactly three years to the date, once again playing the role of underdog, that is again the most searched trend on Google, but Tebow didn't wear the verse on his face. This time, people made the connection based off of some very eerie numbers that Tebow posted in the Broncos' incredible wild card victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Tebow completed 10 passes on the game for 316 yards, an average of 31.6 yards per carry. The numbers were so oddly coincidental it didn't seem coincidental to a lot of people, and once again, Google is blowing up with searches for, "John 3:16."
In fact, the second most searched term on Google right now is Tim Tebow, the fifth is "broncos," and the sixth is "Denver Broncos."
I don't exactly know how to say this to people who want Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees and their teams to be the most popular in the NFL because they are proven and better than the Broncos, but there is a simple truth that so many people seem to have significant trouble admitting--Tim Tebow is the most popular athlete in the world, and the Denver Broncos are the most popular team in all of sports right now.
Any respectable journalist would have to admit that, even if they didn't want it to be true. Popular doesn't mean they're the best, but the Broncos continue to win game in improbable ways. This team is 4-0 in overtime this season, something that's remarkable in itself. But the fact that the Broncos went out and called the play they did last night with the Steelers creeping all but one guy up into the box was gutsy, and it paid off big time.
The Broncos took the new overtime rules, crumpled them up in a ball, and threw them over their shoulder and just said, "We're winning this in one play." At least, that had to be the mindset of Demaryius Thomas, who made one of the best tackling corners I have ever seen in Ike Taylor look like an annoying mosquito as he sprinted 80 yards to the end zone.
Like John was talking about on MHR Radio last night, there's something about overcoming adversity and winning a ball game. The Broncos should have had the game sealed on Ben Roethlisberger's backward pass, but thanks to a rule put in place by Jay Cutler himself, they were not allowed to get the call reversed and Pittsburgh drove down the field for their first touchdown shortly thereafter.
The Broncos also have had to overcome a serious wave of facemask calls that have been missed, which is so astounding to me since everyone and their dog can see the facemask happening from every living room watching the game, but the officials can't see it on the field.
Regardless, the Broncos were able to do the impossible, at least, according to a majority of people NFL fans listen to. One person went on Twitter yesterday, asking for predictions on the day's games. I said, "Broncos and Giants!" and he responded, "broncos? Really?"
Like John said, I will never have the guts to pick against the Broncos in a game, and I hope I never do. I am 9-8 on my Broncos picks this year, and I couldn't be happier about it. I know no one is going to pick Denver to beat New England either, but I'll formally start the, "Broncos beating the Patriots," bandwagon if it hasn't already, in which case I'll jump right on.
This team was down in the dumps after losing three straight games and backing into the playoffs. All that talk about Brady Quinn coming in for packages, losing Chris Kuper to the grossest leg injury I've seen, and having no fullback for the first time pretty much all year were all reasons to doubt the Broncos, but this team has proven again and again that you simply have to believe that something great is going to happen.
And it did.
The Broncos took it to the reigning AFC champions in the first half, broke down slightly in the second half, and it was Tim Tebow making plays despite once again being hammered all week by the national media. The confidence was there from Tim, and thus, the confidence was there from the rest of the team.
One area of this team that doesn't get enough love is the offensive line. They are extremely well-coached and have played excellent football since Tebow took over as the starting quarterback. We've not only led the league in rushing, but they have allowed Tebow to take his time and make reads, even if it is slower than other quarterbacks playing at this time of year.
That was very evident on Sunday night as the Broncos put up 447 yards and didn't allow a single sack against the number one ranked defense in the NFL, against the top ranked pass defense in the NFL. Against a team that has not given up more than 29 points all season except for a week one blowout loss against the Baltimore Ravens.
This Broncos team is one that I'm extremely proud of. That is something I have not said since the Patriots game six years ago in Denver.
All we fans can ask for at this point is another game, and guess what?
We got one. Who knew Tom Brady's words to Tebow after the Patriots' win earlier this year would hold so much weight a month later:
"Maybe we'll see you again."