“Something magical about this kid,”NFL Network announcer Brad Nessler said after Tim Tebow ran for the game-winning touchdown on Thursday night against the Jets. There is something about how he stinks for over three quarters, but manages to finally put it all together for a late scoring drive. There will probably be hundreds of better written articles about how his success won’t be long-term, but I want to make one point about yards per play.
The Broncos are doing a very good job of running the ball and as a team they’re averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Tebow is averaging 5.76 yards per pass attempt this season. But compare that to Aaron Rodgers who is averaging almost 10 yards per pass attempt. Even an average NFL quarterback is around 7 to 8 yards per attempt. Denver can’t win consistently if their offense is always gaining 100 yards fewer per game.
But I didn’t want to write this post about Tebow. Instead I want to focus on the other 21 starters each week who are doing their part to help the Broncos win four of their last five games — and they deserve some credit too.
In Tebow’s first start of the season, the Broncos’ offense was held scoreless for the first 57 minutes while their defense held the Dolphins to only 15 points and 267 yards of total offense. The Dolphins went 3 for 14 on third down, and were forced to settle for three field goals. Also, the defense stopped the Dolphins on a two-point conversion which otherwise would have put the game out of reach.
After an embarrassing home loss to the Lions, the Broncos allowed over 400 yards of total offense to the Raiders, but picked off Carson Palmer three times (twice by Champ Bailey). The big story was the Broncos’ offensive line, which allowed their offense to run for nearly 300 yards (163 by 29-year-old Willis McGahee).
Against the Chiefs, the defense played even better. The Chiefs only had 258 yards of total offense and there were 12 hits recorded on QB Matt Cassel. Tebow only completed two passes, but with their defense, the Broncos didn’t need much more offense than one long touchdown pass to Eric Decker.
And then on Thursday night against the Jets, Denver’s defense stepped up once again. Before Tebow led them on a game winning 95-yard touchdown drive, their offense only had 135 yards of total offense and had punted on their previous eight possessions. But the defense forced the Jets to punt six times, and cornerback Andre Goodman’s 26-yard interception return for a touchdown tied the score at 10 late in the third quarter. Linebacker Von Miller (who is already up to 9.5 sacks in his rookie season) had a huge sack with less than one minute to go that effectively forced the Jets to burn their final two timeouts.
While Tebow deserves credit for making big plays when they needed them, his teammates are the ones making that last-minute victory possible.