The Denver Broncos won their division and a playoff berth the way teams hate to win their division and a playoff berth: by being “outlost” by other teams.
The Broncos will host the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 4:30 p.m. (EST) game Sunday on CBS, but they aren’t exactly galloping into the postseason. Denver is 8-8, has lost three straight and has a quarterback who has lost his mojo but not his Q rating.
Tim Tebow is in the playoffs, but he has a lot to prove. A magnet for conversation and controversy over the public displays of his religious beliefs, he has committed seven turnovers during the losing streak and those miraculous fourth-quarter victories are a dimming memory. On Sunday, the Broncos lost 7-3 to Kansas City with the Chiefs clogging Tebow’s running lanes and forcing him to pass. Imagine what the Steelers’ defense, even if Ryan Clark cannot play, will do to him.
Tebow’s coach, John Fox, had a brusque answer when asked to assess his quarterback’s performance Sunday: “Just like the rest of our team, not good enough.”
Cornerback Champ Bailey was less specific, but more critical generally about the Broncos. “It’s good to get in, regardless. But we’ve got to get better,” Bailey said, via the Denver Post. “We’ve got to prepare better, we’ve got to play better, period, if we want to win this game next weekend. I know what we’re capable of. But if we keep putting that product out there on the field like we did today, it’s not going to be pretty. We’ve got to find a way to get better. The good thing is, we’re in it, and we’ve got a chance.”
Which kind of sums of Tebow’s immediate and long-range future. Fox and John Elway, the team’s vice president of football operations, know better than anyone what Tebow can and cannot do. They’re been pretty upfront about it, even when fans were buying billboards and clamoring for Tebow Time.
Maybe Tebow can recapture some of his earlier magic, the magic that prompted Elway to give him a tepid endorsement last month. “Tim Tebow’s not going anywhere,” he told the Associated Press. “I mean, he’s going to be a Bronco and we’re going to do everything we can and hopefully he’s that guy.”
Can he be that guy now?
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