Tim Tebow passing to Demaryius Thomas (Photo Jeff Gross Getty Images)
The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the New England Patriots in the AFC Division playoff game next Sunday…well that was what I heard all this week. The Steelers though hobbled by key injuries on their offense and defensive were nine point favorites to defeat the Denver Broncos and move on in the playoffs. That did not happen. Since i listen to and watch a great amount of sports radio and television I can say that if there were “experts” out there picking the Broncos to win this game they were not saying so with any conviction. The best that I heard was that the Broncos would likely cover the point spread but not win. That was even the talk before the game today.
And why not? Who could blame the experts? The Steelers were 12-4 during the regular season. The Broncos had lost their last three games and had not scored a touchdown in their last 22 offensive drives. The magic seemed to have disappeared for Tim Tebow, the defense was porous and a week ago the Broncos just looked bad against he Chiefs. They won the AFC West because the Oakland Raiders lost their final game against the hapless San Diego Chargers looking every bit as bad as the Broncos.
Yes the Steelers were banged up but certainly Tim Tebow stood no chance against their top ranked defense. That was the line. Tebow was history and had every possibility of being replaced by backup QB Brady Quinn during game if the Broncos fell behind according to some.
I didn’t have a dog in this fight. I don’t care for the Steelers and because I grew up with the Raiders really am not a Broncos fan. But given the choice I would root for the Broncos something that goes back to Franco Harris and the Immaculate Reception against the Raiders back in December of 1972 but I don’t hold grudges, I did root for the Steelers whenever they played the Cowboys in the Super Bowl.
However things did not play to the script of the experts. I am not a big Tebow fan and don’t believe that he is at the same level as Aaron Rogers, Tom Brady or Drew Brees. That being said I do believe that Tebow has character and is a leader who can win in the most unlikely circumstances. I also think that the mean spirited and cynical attacks on his faith are uncalled for and classless and that politicians that compare themselves to him are are even worse than Tebow’s most mean spirited critics.
Today Tebow and the Broncos offense dominated the Steelers defense and the Broncos defensive unit put the hit on Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger sacking him 5 times and intercepting him once. Tebow who had struggled terribly over the past few weeks came though in a big way. He threw for 316 yards and ran for another 50 while throwing two touchdowns and rushing for another without committing the turnovers that plagued him in the last three games of the season.
After giving up two first quarter field goals the Broncos scored 20 points in just under 7 minutes during the 2nd quarter to lead the game 20-6 at the half. The Steelers tied the game at 23 with 3:48 left in the game sending it into overtime.
The overtime was the first played under the new sudden death rules but those rules became irrelevant on the first play of overtime when the Tebow hit WR Demaryius Thomas on a 80 yard pass scoring 11 seconds into the overtime an NFL record.
It was a stunning play which electrified the Broncos fans and even owner John Elway who appeared exuberant on the sidelines. The Steelers were stunned. Their season was not supposed to end in Denver.
Tim Tebow and the Broncos now travel to Foxboro to play Tom Brady and the powerful New England Patriots. The Patriots are already big favorites and are certainly the best team in the AFC. They have been rolling over their opponents even after giving up big leads early. I do expect that the miraculous season of Tim Tebow and the Broncos ends this week but if there is a quarterback and team that could upset the Pats in Foxboro it is Tim Tebow and the Broncos. If they keep the game close it could be a classic.
In other playoff action the New York Giants dominated the Atlanta Falcons 28-2, the Houston Texans won their first playoff game in franchise history defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 31-10 after trailing 10-7 at the half and the New Orleans Saints defeated the Detroit Lions 45-28.
Demaryius Thomas stiff arms Ike Taylor on the way to the winning touchdown (Photo Doug Pensinger Getty Images)
As for Broncos and Tim Tebow the season is the stuff that legends are made of and Tebow, well in my humble opinion he is going to become a legend in the NFL. It won’t be because he is or ever will be the best passer in the game, but it will be because of his athleticism, character and leadership abilities. Of course I could be wrong but there is something special about him and I think that 10 years from now people will still be scratching their heads and wondering how he does what he does.
As for me, I’m cheering for my 49ers and they will only see the Broncos if they meet in the Super Bowl.
It will be interesting.