Don't call it a miracle

Updated: 2011-12-17 08:25

(China Daily)

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 Don't call it a miracle

Tim Tebow has started eight games at quarterback for the Denver Broncos. In six of those, he led them to a second-half comeback - five came in the fourth quarter, and three went to overtime. Hans Deryk / Associated Press

Tebow continues to mystify NFL fans as he leads Broncos on comeback after comeback

Tim Tebow is doing what decades of conventional NFL wisdom said couldn't be done. He's winning game after game playing the most important position on the field, relying less on quarterbacking skills and more on pure will.

Seven times in their past eight games with Tebow in charge, the Broncos have somehow won when they shouldn't have - six times coming back in the second half, five times in the fourth quarter and three of those in overtime. In these seven games, he has confounded supporters and critics alike by winning against all reason and odds - freak turnovers by opponents, sparkling catches by young receivers, Tebow's own pinball runs through defenders - that have made the closing minutes of Denver games must-see TV. The latest one might have been the most improbable.

Trailing the Bears 10-0 with less than five minutes left in the game, Tebow suddenly came alive and orchestrated a 63-yard touchdown drive. Denver quickly regained possession when Bears running back Marion Barber made an inexplicable mistake to stop the clock, thus leaving the Broncos with ample time. Tebow did not let the opportunity slip as he drove the team down the field to make possible a game-tying field goal with less than two minutes to go. In overtime, another Barber fumble put the ball back in Tebow's hands. He drove the team far enough to score another field goal, giving the Broncos a remarkable 13-10 win.

Recruited by Florida, he won two national titles and the Heisman Trophy. But the fiercely religious Tebow was also criticized for frequently praising or thanking God in postgame interviews. The criticism has only gotten louder in the NFL, as Tebow continues to demonstrate his faith openly on the field.

The only thing that drew more criticisms is his unorthodox quarterback mechanics. With limited ability to read defenses, poor footwork and a very questionable throwing arm, he failed to impress many NFL scouts. Before he was drafted, most projected Tebow as a third or fourth-round pick at best, and many suspected his only shot to stick in the NFL would be to change position. He is a solid runner, but no NFL head coach would prioritize that over the traditional quarterback task of passing the ball.

But with the Broncos starting the season at 1-4 with then starter Kyle Orton, first-year Denver coach John Fox grudgingly called on Tebow in the second half of an October game against the Chargers. Since then, it's been a mystifying ride to the top of the AFC West and an even more unlikely playoff spot, made possible by the wildest stretch of late-game heroics ever seen in the NFL.

In the 8 games he's played as a starter, Tebow has taken the Broncos on scoring drives on just 12 of 76 offensive possessions through the first three quarters. On the first possession in fourth quarters, the number is one of nine. But for the remainder of the fourth quarter and into overtime, Tebow has led the Broncos to touchdowns or field goals an incredible 16 of 28 times.

Around the league, other coaches and players watch scoreboards for late Broncos scores and their players rush back through the tunnel to catch the final few moments. A week ago, 49ers lineman Mike Iupati walked through the San Francisco locker room yelling, "Tim Tebow, 6-1, baby!"

And now he's 7-1 in the pass-happy NFL, the best story this season.

NOTES

NFL China's live broadcasts

This week's games:

*Monday, 9:20 am

Baltimore Ravens vs San Diego Chargers

Guangdong Sports Channel, Shanghai Great Sports, QQ Sports, PPTV

*Tuesday, Dec 20, 9:30 am

Pittsburgh Steelers vs San Francisco 49ers

Guangdong Sports Channel, Sina Sports, PPTV

China Daily

(China Daily 12/17/2011 page15)