For the first time since the AFL-NFL merger, a rookie quarterback has led a 17 point comeback in his first home start. That man is none other than Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, of course.
With the Broncos trailing 17-0 at halftime, it appeared as though our beloved team was posturing itself for the top overall pick in the draft. When they came out of the locker room in the second half, though, it was a completely different story.
The Broncos got the ball to start the third, and it was four plays before Correll Buckhalter scampered in for the first Denver score. The Broncos still trailed by ten points, and the Texans matched them with a couple of long field goals to put the Broncos in a 23-10 hole heading into the fourth quarter.
When Buckhalter took a masterfully designed screen play 23 yards to the house, and Daniel Graham made maybe the block of the day, it felt like Tebow and the Broncos had, at least for the time being, restored some of the Mile High Magic that made their home field advantageous.
A quick stop by the defense, and with a little less than eight minutes remaining, Tebow drove the Broncos down the field, converting a huge third down play early in the drive with a check-down pass to Buckhalter (who, if not for Tebow would have been THE player of the game) who scampered for another 20+ yard gain and more importantly, a Denver first down.
A pass to Brandon Lloyd, and another to Jabar Gaffney put the Broncos within striking distance. Tebow scrambled for a first down, and the Broncos had taken the clock to roughly three minutes before it happened.
After a failed pass to Eddie Royal was aided by a pass interference call, the Broncos had four shots to get the ball in the end zone, and Chris Kuper made it a little more interesting with his false start penalty.
Tebow missed on the first down play, but second down was pure magic. The rookie quarterback dropped back, rolled right, and nothing was there. Then, he did what he does best. Tebow sprinted the opposite way, where only a defensive tackle stood in the way of the Broncos tying the game. When Tebow crossed the goal line, Mile High erupted. The cameras were again shaking.
The Mile High magic was--and IS--back.
Steve Hauschka kicked the go-ahead extra point, and the Broncos needed one stop from their defense. For this one, fate stepped in.
The Texans were easily within Neil Rackers' field goal range, and for some reason, decided to continue throwing the ball. Owen Daniels--already having a fantastic game--was wide open for Schaub, who tried to sling it to him low. I'm not exactly sure if the ball hit off of Justin Bannan or Brian Dawkins, but someone popped it up into the air for Denver cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson.
It seemed like the excitement from Broncos football was lost. It's not often that I curl up in a blanket to watch the game, but on Sunday I did. By the time the second half rolled around, I couldn't get far enough away from my chair. I am finally excited about Broncos football again, and despite the fact that this year was the most forgettable in quite some time, I am going to dearly miss watching this team play on a regular basis come January 3rd.
It's not all Tebow, and I realize that, but the guy simply willed this team to a victory yesterday. He brought to the table exactly what I have been craving since 2009 when he was at Florida. Tim Tebow is a winner, and he's a Denver Bronco. I for one am glad about the potential he gives this team going forward, and I think he did a great job to erase the thought of the team trading him and drafting Andrew Luck.
Yes, he is a rookie quarterback, so no, he wasn't flawless. In fact, after the two screen plays to start the game, I was almost certain we wouldn't throw on first and goal, but we did, and Tebow made a horrid throw. He admitted as much, and didn't make a mistake the rest of the game.
Personally, I cannot wait to see what the future holds for this team with Tebow at the helm. He showed on Sunday why I have wanted him for so long, and why if I were a GM, I wouldn't have let him last past the top five. What he brings to the table, very few quarterback prospects have, and very few NFL quarterbacks have. Only the best possess what Tebow has, and I think he can be one of the best in the league.
John and Tim have already laid out my exact sentiments, but I still feel what I have to say needed to be said. I think Tebow gives the Broncos the best chance to win now and going forward, and with a revamped defensive unit, I think this team can contend far quicker than any of us could think.
As if you couldn't already tell, I was quite pleased with the game on Sunday. I had a blast watching it, and this is a great week for Broncos fans. Andrew Siciliano said yesterday on the Red Zone Channel that the Broncos can't make the playoffs, but at least they have Tim Tebow. Maybe it's sad, or maybe it's not, but I found some comfort in that statement.
Sure, we suck this year. It's not like it's a secret or anything. But at least we have a future. The Broncos have a future at quarterback, and his name is Tim Tebow. Not Andrew Luck, not Kyle Orton, not anyone else--Tebow is here to stay.
If I could go back to my pre-draft sentiments, they might look something like this:
You don't not draft Tim Tebow because he has poor mechanics or because he didn't make pro-style reads at Florida. You draft him because he's a great football player, and not only did he consistently find a way to win at the college level, but he was the catalyst. He can be the catalyst for the Broncos. He can provide things at the quarterback position that only a select few can provide.
Mel Kiper Jr. once said that Tim Tebow has "number one pick intangibles." So why wasn't this guy a number one pick and JaMarcus Russell was?
Don't get me wrong, I understand the skepticism, but 20 years ago if Tebow had played, he would have been the number one pick in the draft without a shadow of a doubt. Mark Schlereth said it best in his column today when he talked about the fact that the draft pundits can criticize his motion all they want, but when it comes down to it, the pre-draft process can make a hero out of a guy like Matt Jones or Vernon Gholston, but without pads on and with unfamiliar players around him, it can make Tebow look like a bafoon.
What the pre-draft process didn't show was the way Tebow led the troops at Florida, and the way he motivated his teammates and demanded their respect. The way he broke a kickoff huddle and had to be removed by the coach because he was so jacked up about winning the game.
Tebow has brought that intensity to Denver, and I for one am ecstatic.