If you had to describe what just happened in one word, what would you choose? I'm no Thesaurus expert and as such I have no single word to describe what just happened. I do know that the Denver Broncos just did something that has never before happened in my lifetime.
The fanbase seems to have split even further over this win.
The Tebow critic vs. the Tebow fanatic. If this game were a UFC fight the Tebow critics were laying a beating on the fanatics for the first 3 rounds. Shot after shot. Hit after hit. Face into the mat and back up again. Face into the mat and back up again. Then, beaten and bloody, came a knockout punch that the critics never saw coming. A left-handed hook that KO'd them in a heartbeat... and the crowd goes silent. This was unexpected.
You have to ask yourself, as you watched that football game how did it make you feel? I could almost hear tapping of keys and scratching pens as Tebow's goodbye letter was being written in bold and cyanide.
"Tebow Gets Gator Chomped At His Own Homecoming. Critics Were Right All Along." Can't you just feel it?
How many pages and pages of "I told you so" type of writing were 3 minutes away from a "Publish" button or fax into the editor? A story the size of Tebow? Volumes. This was going to be just a loss for the Broncos, but a huge win for Tebow critics the world around. The ammo they had been waiting for was right there, and this magazine didn't go empty for a whole week, maybe never.
Then it happened.
You can't explain it. I can't explain it. We could only watch it.
With three minutes left the Denver Broncos pulled off a comeback that we haven't seen the likes of in 40 years. It wasn't possible. Not this team. Not in that situation. But when Prater kicked that 52-yard field goal, after having missed his first two, everything was erased. Venom turned sour. The ink disappeared. Microsoft Word crashed.
Everything had to be re-written. Suddenly the fight is back on and while the Tebow critics scrambled to pick up the smashed pieces of their now thoothless words and sentences that still made some kind of sense, the Tebow fanatic crowd became energized with that same smug the Tebow critics were drinking like freshmen at a kegger. The pendulum had swung the other way. It was time for the Tebow corner to do some bashing. It was time to return the favor.
But that smug, like a virus or a JaMarcus Russell rookie card, clouds our judgment and is worthless to whomever is so unfortunate to contract it. Instead of bringing a fanbase together, it pushes us apart as we fight for the right to shove it in each other's faces whenever we get the circumstance to do so. It forces us into two camps. Hater and fanatic, Democrats and Republicans, Imperial and Republic, John Locke and Jack Shephard.
We are forgetting we are each... Bronco fan.
Shame on us. What we saw on Sunday should teach us better.
I am beginning to realize something about Tim Tebow that I never noticed before, or never took the time to recognize. Perhaps I had just missed it because I was busy in a cloud of my own smug, but it has become much clearer to me now. The more we try to evaluate Tim Tebow on his own the more we are going to keep missing exactly what it is about Tebow that makes him who he is.
I'm not saying we should avoid the individual stats part of Tebow. Those are necessary. Those need to improve. But what we have been missing is the team stat. Tebow needs to be evaluated as part of a team and what THAT team does under he and his coaches' leadership. Unfortunately, there's no stat for that.
The comeback we witnessed on Sunday wasn't the product of an individual effort. In fact, it was the exact opposite. There will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth over the first 55 minutes of that game but I hope that the final 5 minutes won't be lost in this immediate, and critical news cycle.
Ladies and Gentlemen, for almost 5 minutes in a football game, at the very end, when every single statistic, when every single odd was telling them "you have no chance", "this hasn't been done since the merger", "not in over 40 years" the Denver Broncos became...
Think about that for a minute. Our 1-4 football team, staring down the barrel of a 15-0 deficit with 5:23 minutes left found a way, as an entire football team, to become perfect. The beauty of this comeback was that it wasn't enough for one aspect of the football team to be perfect. No, every single phase of this team had to, AS A TEAM, become... perfect.
Clock is at 5:23. 15-0
Tebow completes passes to Thomas, Moreno, and Willis. 5/6 passing. 71 yards. 1 TD. Passer rating = 155.56
Clock is at 2:44. 15-7
Matt Prater, who has already missed two big field goals, executes a magnificent onside kick, a play that has a 20% chance of succeeding since 2002. Under John Fox... a 0 percent chance. Virgil Green, a rookie, executes a perfect hit on Marlon Moore and recovers the football. Denver ball.
Ensuing drive Tebow completes passes to Thomas, Royal, Decker, and Fells. 5/8 passing. 50 yards. 1 TD. Passer rating since 5:23 = 137.2
Clock is at 0:17. 15-13
Tebow converts for 2 points standing up. Game is tied. History is in the making.
Dolphins win coin toss and go 3 and out on their first possession thanks to Denver Defense. Denver returns the favor and goes 3 and out. Dolphins get a first down on ensuing drive.
The Denver Defense, while holding the Dolphins to only 15 points all game, had not yet recorded a turnover. With the game on the line, D.J. Williams sacked Matt Moore, stripped the football, and recovered at the Dolphins 36.
3 runs later, a completed 52 yard field goal by the previously awful Matt Prater and history was officially final.
First Bronco win at Dolphin Stadium against the Dolphins. Greatest comeback in the last 40 years. Fastest execution of zero to tacos in Colorado history.
Offense, Defense, and Special Teams. It wasn't enough for just one to be good. It wasn't enough by a long shot. But if all three excelled, at the same time, this comeback became possible. Wouldn't you know it, that's exactly what happened. Call it the Miracle March or the Immaculate Rejection. Call it whatever you want. The Broncos achieved the unthinkable because each aspect of their team believed they could.
When asked after the game what changed, the resounding answer by all of the Broncos organization was simple. They kept believing. The word kept moving up and down the sidelines. They never quit. At no point in a situation that nearly guaranteed them failure did they decide to toss in the towel and chalk one up to another poor showing that sent them home dwelling on what could have been.
Tim Tebow may be one of the greatest team players in the NFL right now. When I say you can't evaluate Tim on just his statistics it's because you cannot overlook what he provides for the rest of his team. His ability to bring them to the next level and provide that spark. I guarantee you that Tim Tebow will never accept credit for a win. He will always deflect that credit onto his teammates because he understands, probably better than most of us, that success in the NFL relies on work, both individually and as a team. He will also never shy away from taking blame for a loss. These are the traits of a leader. These things cannot be taught. They are part of who you are. These are the intangibles and they are invaluable. This is why I respect Tim Tebow. This is why I am a Tebow fan.
It's also why I am a Brian Dawkins fan and a Champ Bailey fan. It's what I hope to see Von Miller develop.
What happened at 5:23 against the Dolphins last Sunday was not because of Tebow. He was only a big cog in a machine that found a way to believe in themselves and perform at a level, for five minutes, that made them one of the best football teams in the NFL. They became a historical football team. Can they do this consistently over the course of an entire season? Probably not. But when they go back to the film and watch this game and suffer through 55 minutes of pain, I hope that the Denver coaching staff also points out that for 5 minutes they were not beatable. For 5 minutes they played to their full potential... and they didn't do it when the odds were in their favor, they did it when everything said it was impossible. They did it when all they had left was belief in each other. They realized it's now how you ran the race, but how you finish that history remembers. This is the team I know. This is why I am a Denver Bronco fan.
Perhaps a motto was developed on the sidelines for a 2-4 football team that is hanging onto a pipe dream called playoffs during a stretch of schedule they are being told they cannot win. Perhaps this ragtag group of players, some from a new regime, others leftovers from the raw wounds of a past regime, will find a way. Perhaps they just gave us the best example of what happens when we forget for a minute the impact of one single player and consider the power of an entire team. The unthinkable? It could happen.