WIth less than two minutes to go, against a formidable Chicago defense, Tim Tebow willed his team from a 10-0 deficit in the closing seconds to tie the Bears. After Matt Prater nailed a career-long 59-yard field goal with eight seconds to go to push the game into overtime, the hometown Denver crowd, and even the Broncos sideline, knew fully well that Overtime was Tebow Time.
And so it was. The Denver Broncos won the game on another 51-yard field goal after a crucial fumble by the Chicago RB Marion Barber, improving an 8-5 record and another overtime win. The Bears fall to 7-6, after losing quarterback Jay Cutler for the season and leading rusher, receiver, and all-around Bears playmaker Matt Forte with an MCL sprain.
There are so many words to describe the Denver Broncos' year. Dramatic. Heart-pounding. Unbelievable. Magical. After a rough 1-4 start under quarterback Kyle Orton, the Broncos organization took a big chance by benching him for relative newcomer Tim Tebow, effectively giving him the reins to their entire season. Under pressure by the organization, and countless analysts who have damned Tebow's NFL career from the beginning, the former Florida Gators QB has exceeded all expectations, emerging as a legitimate suitor for the league's MVP award.
With Denver's win Sunday over the Chicago Bears, the Broncos have climbed to a 7-1 record with Tebow as starting quarterback, with now six of those wins coming in the fourth quarter or overtime. Crunch time is Tebow Time.
Of course, the game would have been the Bears' if not for two crucial late-game mistakes by Chicago running back Marion Barber. With less than two minutes to go, after Tebow threw a touchdown to bring the Broncos to within three of the Bears, Chicago just needed to run out the clock. Unfortunately, a second down play with 1:55 had Barber running to the sidelines, and forgot that that the clock stops, when he runs out of bounds. His mental error gave Denver enough time to play if they got the ball back. Then, of course, the formidable Denver defense made another stop, the Bears punted, and Tebow came alive once again, getting Matt Prater within his field goal range after a few clutch throws.
There's just something about this team. You can't take your eyes off them, because even when the game was essentially over, Denver, either its defense or Tebow, manages to find a way to win.
This season, Tebow has thrown 1054 yards and 10 touchdowns, but Tebow is the team's second leading rusher after Willis McGahee, notching 468 yards and three touchdowns on 82 carries. His numbers may not be extraordinary, but his attitude and his big plays at the right times have everyone believing in Tebow.
I know that I had a lot of help, Tebow said, as he usually does, at last Sunday's postgame presser. Offensive line did a great job, and receivers stepped up and made me look a lot better than I really am.
Despite many questions about his arm mechanics, Tebow has managed to put points on the board for his team, and more importantly, inspire both his offense and defense to perform at a high level. In the last eight games under Tebow, the defense has limited its opponents to an average of 15.9 points per game, ranking among the best in the league in both rushing and passing. With Tebow as the team's No. 2 running option on offense, the Broncos are first in the NFL in rushing yards with an average of 159 yards per game.
Tebow's won many of his games with the help of a strong running game, but on Sunday against the Bears, the former Gator showed off his arm, racking up a season high 236 yards in the air and one touchdown. Tebow's repeatedly said that he'll do whatever [his coaching staff] ask of him. Whatever gives the Broncos the best chance to win, Tebow has agreed to do.
It may surprise you to learn Tebow ranks among the NFL's elite quarterbacks in efficiency. Tebow gains an average of 2.6 yards each time he touches the ball, and only four quarterbacks average more yards than he, including (in order) Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, Saints QB Drew Brees, Patriots QB Tom Brady, and Texans injured QB Matt Schaub.
Tebow may receive an honorable mention for MVP this season, just because too many other quarterbacks are chasing extraordinary NFL records. Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers gave each of their teams a win over the Redskins, Titans and Raiders, respectively, and they're all leading their teams in their respective divisions. Brady's Patriots and Brees' Saints are both 10-3, and Rodger's Packers are a perfect 13-0. Furthermore, all three men are threatening Dan Marino's all-time NFL record of 5,084 passing yards in a single season.
The only way Tebow could steal the MVP Award away from any of these QBs is if he runs the table this season and leads the Broncos into the playoffs with the AFC West crown. With the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs left on the slate, it won't be easy.
Even if Tebow doesn't win the MVP award, the Broncos have already won much more than a trophy. They have Tebow, who has captivated the nation in more ways than one. It's true, even Lindsey Vonn is Tebowing, but more importantly, eyes are glued to the field whenever Tebow straps his helmet on. His unpredictable play, his bravado, his toughness, his heady plays, his rah-rah attitude, and particularly his persistence towards the end of the game -- it's must-see television all the way. There hasn't been this much excitement surrounding the franchise since John Elway was at quarterback. In fact, Denver's current six-game win streak hasn't been accomplished since Elway ran the Broncos show.
Next week, the Tebow show is host to Tom Brady and the Patriots, which will be an interesting battle to say the least. If the Broncos can find a way to stop Brady in Mile High, Tebow's MVP campaign will kick into high gear.