Tebow the king of the comebacks this year
Englewood — (AP) — Tim Tebow might want to update his autobiography, and not just because it’s a best-seller.
In “Through My Eyes,” Denver’s unconventional quarterback writes about how those who finish strong in football or life will achieve success and even greatness.
He devoted just two pages to the topic but has enough material now to write several chapters.
Since taking over as the Broncos’ starter a month and a half ago, Tebow has engineered three fourth-quarter comebacks, two of which set up overtime wins for Denver, and another win at Oakland in which he rallied the Broncos from a halftime deficit to win going away.
He’s 6-3 in his NFL career and four of those wins involved fourth-quarter comebacks.
The Broncos (6-5) are riding a four-game winning streak that includes triumphs on the road against each of their AFC West opponents, including the division-leading Raiders.
All these comebacks are breeding confidence.
“Big time. I’d say our mentality changed to where it’s not, ‘Oh-oh, here we go again,’ it’s, ‘OK, give us the ball, we’re going to go and score,'” wide receiver Eric Decker said.
Tebow, who hasn’t completed more than half his passes in any game this season, still struggles mightily before coming through at crunch time.
The Broncos are winning games with more audacity than artistry.
“Whatever it takes,” running back Willis McGahee said. “That is our motto right now.”
In four of their wins under Tebow this year, the Broncos have scored 18, 17, 17 and 16 points, usually the recipe for losses and a restless fan base, not wild celebrations and cheerful flights home.
“We would love to go and blow a team out, but if not, we’re going to fight and scratch and claw to pull (out) these so-called ugly victories,” safety Brian Dawkins said. “I’ll tell you what, though … we’ll take ugly victories any day.”
Tebow’s been among the first to deflect any credit for the wins, pointing out Denver’s creative play-calling, strong ground game, stout defense and superb special teams as the passing game makes incremental progress week to week.
For the first time all season, Tebow completed at least half of his passes Sunday, going 9 for 18 for 188 yards in Denver’s 16-13 overtime win at San Diego, and he had strikes of 39 yards to Decker and 23 to Dante Rosario on the game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter.
“He’s getting better as a passer right before our eyes,” analyst Steve Mariucci said on the NFL Network. “This is such a fun story because it’s so unique. We haven’t seen this before. Of all of the option quarterbacks that have come into the league, they move them to receiver, or you play Wildcat, or you go play defense. Here is a team that’s playing option football — you’ve got to be kidding me — and the kid is winning games.”
“It’s not necessarily all option.” Tebow said. “Yes, we put it in and teams have to be honest and play the gap some, but I think it’s a variety of things. It’s great coaching and it’s keeping the defense off balance. Whether it’s option, whether it’s zone read, whether it’s unbalance, whether it’s play action . I think a defense has to prepare for a lot of different looks and you have to credit our coaches for that.”
Tebow’s 188 yards passing against the Chargers were a season-best.
“He’s getting a better feel,” coach John Fox said Monday. “And like the old adage, the more you do it, the better you get. I think (quarterbacks coach) Adam Gase and (offensive coordinator) Mike McCoy have done a terrific job with him before practice, after practice and he’s done a terrific job of being willing to do the extra work. That’s part of being a pro, and he’s proved to be a good one.”
Decker said Tebow’s strides are most evident in his decisions.
“I think he’s only got one interception this year and it’s a credit to him for not forcing a bad ball or doing something stupid,” Decker said. “Because punting the ball’s not a bad thing, either. The way our defense is playing right now, why not get them inside the 20 and let our defense go to work?”
The talk around Tebow, however, is more about his legs than his erratic arm.
On Sunday, he carried 22 times for 67 yards — the most carries by a quarterback in a game since at least 1950, according to STATS LLC.
Fox said Monday it’s harder to monitor Tebow’s carries than his tailbacks’ but “in a lot of ways, the quarterback is more exposed in the pass game than he is in the run game because you can’t defend yourself.”
With Tebow running the offense, the Broncos have scored 11 times in the fourth quarter or overtime compared to 10 scoring drives in the first three quarters combined.
Finishing strong is something Tebow did plenty of times at Florida and he wrote about it in his book.
“You have to finish in football; you have to learn how to finish in the weight room, through the line, finishing a sprint; everything gets hard. Finish,” Tebow wrote. “Eventually some people are going to start going slower, but the people who can finish and finish at the same pace or stronger than when they started, those are the ones who are going to succeed; those are the ones who are going to be great.”
Linebacker Wesley Woodyard said Denver’s defenders know that if they can keep the game within reach, Tebow will pull out some of his last-minute magic.
“It does have an effect on us,” he said.
Whether Tebow looks pretty doing it or not.
“I’m sure he’s still going to have some haters,” linebacker Von Miller said. “But he’s been leading our team consistently. You don’t have to throw for 400 yards, all you have to do is manage the game right.”
Notes: Fox described CB-KR Cassius Vaughn’s right ankle injury as significant. … John Elway, who ignited an Internet firestorm a week ago when he said on his weekly radio show that he didn’t know if his QB of the future was on the roster, said on 102.3 FM in Denver on Monday that he meant no disrespect to Tebow: “It wasn’t meant to be a strike at Timmy at all.”