Tebow legend grows

Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is tackled by Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher in Denver, Col., Dec....

Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is tackled by Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher in Denver, Col., Dec. 11, 2011. (RICK WILKING/Reuters)

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:50 PM ET

TORONTO - It had been a great run, a remarkable run, a run that nobody could explain. But now it was over. Tim Tebow was about to come crashing back to earth. Back to reality.

Trailing the Chicago Bears 10-7 with just over two minutes to go, Tebow and the Denver Broncos were essentially helpless. All the Bears had to do was keep the clock running and time would run out on Denver’s and Tebow’s amazing, magical success story.

Then, inexplicably, Bears running back Marion Barber stepped out of bounds on a second-down play. There was 2:08 left on the clock and Denver was out of timeouts. Now all the Broncos had to do was stop the Bears on third down and they would get the ball back.

And you know what happens when Tim Tebow gets the ball back as time is running out.

With 53 seconds left, the Broncos began at their own 20. Seven plays later, including Tebow completions of nine, 11 and 19 yards, Denver’s Matt Prater booted a 59-yard field goal to send the game into overtime.

Still, it was bleak for the home side. Chicago took the ball from the overtime kickoff and marched into kicker Robbie Gold’s range and then, that man Barber fumbled. Denver’s Elvis Dumervil recovered.

This being a Tim Tebow story, you pretty much know the rest. Eight plays later, Prater is back, this time to kick a 51-yarder. His game-winner cleared the bar by 15 yards.

And another chapter is added to the Tim Tebow legend.

He is unorthodox. He plays the game backward, at least compared to the way the NFL is being played today. He’s a square peg in a round hole, a running quarterback who can’t complete a pass unless it really, really means something.

Sunday was typical. First three quarters, he was 3-for-16 passing. Fourth quarter and beyond? He was 18-for-24.

Since he was reluctantly installed as quarterback, replacing Kyle Orton, the Broncos have won seven of eight games and six in a row, moving from last place to first in the AFC West. Six of Tebow’s wins have come in the fourth quarter or in overtime.

In his eight games, Tebow has thrown exactly 10 passes, total, when his team was leading. Conversely, his 22 rushing attempts two weeks ago against San Diego were the most by a quarterback in the Super Bowl era, stretching back into the 1960s.

“I don’t think we’ll ever see another situation like this again,” said Denver president John Elway this week. Elway was lukewarm on Tebow for starters but even he has caught the Tebow bug.

“It’s a phenomenon. The reason why it’s a phenomenon is because he’s a great kid. If there was a kid I’d want to marry my daughter, it would be Tim Tebow.”

Elway is still uncertain what the future holds but for now, it’s all Tebow, all the time.

“Everybody wants to know the future, but we’re really focused on what it is right now,” Elway said. “Do I see improvement in Tebow week in and week out? Yeah, I do. That’s our goal, to continue. I think Tebow is a great football player. Our goal is to make him a great quarterback.

“The last thing I want to do is have it portrayed that I’m not a Tim Tebow fan. I’m his biggest fan.

“I want him to be the guy. Tim’s still a young guy that’s getting better. Where his ceiling is, I don’t know. That’s going to be up to him. But my job, and our job as a coaching staff, is to make that ceiling as high as possible. Because we know that on the intangible side, he’s through the roof.”

QUICK HITS

Panthers kicker Olindo Mare missed a 36-yard field goal and is now 19-of-25 on the season. Kickers with 76% field goal percentages don’t have a long shelf life. “We have to sit down and visit with him,” coach Ron Rivera said. “You can’t do that, you really can’t.” .... Houston wide receiver Jacoby Jones is impressed with quarterback T.J. Yates, who pitched the Texans into the playoffs for the first time. “The kid’s performance speaks for itself. I’m lost for words. All I can say is, T.J., T.J., T.J.” .... Patriots’ QB Tom Brady on his verbal dustup with offensive coordinator Tom O’Brien: “We’re both pretty emotional guys. That’s what I deserved. You make bad plays, you’re supposed to get yelled at by your coaches. It’s certainly not the first time and probably won’t be the last. It was just a real stupid play by me.”

CARDINALS GET BEST OF 49ERS

Three weeks ago, John Skelton stunk the joint out against the 49ers in San Francisco. Sunday, he got his revenge.

After a game in which he completed six of 19 passes with three picks and a QB rating of 10 (yes, 10), Skelton came off the bench in replace of starter Kevin Kolb when Kolb suffered a head injury early Sunday and inspired the Cardinals to a 21-19 win over the 49ers, handing them only their third defeat of the season.

Skelton went 19-for-28 for 282 yards, three TDs and two picks, for a rating of 106.

The Cardinals’ defence also came to play this time, sacking Niners QB Alex Smith five times and limiting the San Francisco offence to just four field goals in a first half that could have gotten out of hand.

In spite of the loss, the Niners have already clinched the NFC West title with a 10-3 record.


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