The improbable success of the Denver Broncos continues after they upset the heavily favored Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the NFL playoffs last weekend. The Steelers were banged up and vulnerable going into the game and weren't able to put the Broncos away, opening the door for yet another Tim Tebow-led comeback.
This time it was the first play from scrimmage in overtime when Tebow was able to seal the deal with an 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas.
But can the Broncos pull off another upset against the New England Patriots this weekend?
Based on the Patriots' 41-23 drubbing of the Broncos in Week 15, the answer is no.
New England's offense overmatched the Bronco defense, hanging 40-plus points on them for the first time since Week 8, and Tebow's 191 yards of passing and 93 yards of rushing simply weren't enough to keep them in the game.
The loss to the Patriots started a three-game losing skid that saw the Broncos stumble into the playoffs. But the late-game heroics were back in full effect against the Steelers. Tebow was presented with a late-game opportunity and took full advantage of it, just as he has done so often this year.
Tebow's numbers were solid against the vaunted Pittsburgh defense as well. His 316 passing yards were the best of his career. He didn't turn the ball over while throwing two touchdowns and rushing for 50 yards and another TD.
If he can reproduce those numbers against a New England defense that ranked second worst in the NFL in total yards and a mediocre 15th in points per game surrendered, they have a shot.
On the other hand, there is the Tom Brady factor. Brady doesn't lose much and will destroy lesser opponents if he smells blood in the water. Tom Terrific has won a lot more big games than he's lost.
If the Broncos defense starts to break down, he knows exactly how to exploit it.
But if Tebow is within striking distance late in the game, he has shown several times that anything can—and often does—happen.