Tim Tebow rallied the Denver Broncos to an overtime victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday after trailing by 15 points as late as seven minutes remaining in the 4th Quarter. The comeback was the second thrilling comeback Tebow has orchestrated in the past two games, although this one he finished to completion, capping the rally off with an 18-15 victory.
Throughout the game, the Broncos faced their fair share of challenges, at times looking far superior to the Dolphins, and at other times looking incoherent and off kilter. While Tebow was the heart and soul of the rally, he was not the lone factor. Several other Broncos stepped up at crucial moments throughout the game to make big plays which ultimately all contributed to the win.
The following slides are grades handed out to each of the Broncos units for their performance in Sunday's game.
Overall, the entire Denver Broncos' offense earned a C grade on Sunday.
Up until the 3rd Quarter, the Broncos' offense was almost totally ineffective. They had showed spurts of being able to move the ball against Miami's defense, but had yet to score a single point. Entering the 4th quarter, the offense would have been receiving a failing grade.
But that's why they play all four quarters.
In the final seven minutes, the Broncos scored two touchdowns and converted a 2-point conversion to send the game into overtime, where they finally won on a 52 yard field goal. Within the final seven minutes, the Broncos' offense was unstoppable, fueled by their young quarterback who was determined not to lose. They rose above their previous failing marks to grade out at a C, thanks largely to Tim Tebow and the win.
Again, were Tim Tebow being graded solely through the 3rd quarter, his marks wold be far lower. But when the chips are down and all seems lost, there's a lot to be said for rising to the occasion and leading a team back to victory. Tebow gave a textbook demonstration of how that is done on Sunday, throwing for 2 touchdowns and 161 yards, most of which came in the 4th quarter.
Not only was he instrumental in the come-from-behind win, but Tebow routinely made something out of nothing all day long. Sacked seven times and under duress much of the day, many of his 64 rushing yards came on broken plays and poor protection.
Tebow earns the A- as he still needs improvement in the passing game, both his communication with receivers as well as the crispness and touch of his passes. But winning overshadows a multitude of sins, and Tebow comes in with high marks for the victory on Sunday.
The Broncos actually ran the ball pretty effectively on Sunday. Although they were unable to score on the ground – save for Tebow's 2-point conversion to tie the game – their committee of runners comprised of Willis McGahee, Knowshon Moreno, Tim Tebow and Lance Ball all combined to gain 185 yards on the ground,
Unfortunately, McGahee left the game with a fractured hand and it is unknown how much time he will miss, but third stringer Ball stepped up late in the game with some high pressure carries and gained some meaningful yards in the final two drives of regulation.
Throw in Tebow's elusive nature at quarterback and his downfield running ability, and the backs grade out at a B against Miami on Sunday.
Much of the day, the Broncos' receivers seemed to be out of sync with quarterback Tim Tebow. There were miscommunications, poorly-run routes, indecision, and flat out failure to execute. It appeared to be shaping up to be a long day.
But like most of the Denver Broncos' offense, the receivers rose to the occasion late in the game. In the final two drives of regulation, the Broncos got key receptions from wide outs Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas (a 5 yard TD catch), and Tight End Daniel Fells has back to back key receptions – one to put the Broncos inside the Miami 5-yard line, and the subsequent catch for a touchdown to give the Broncos the chance to equalize.
Despite being ineffective for much of three quarters, a lat flurry of activity gives the Broncos' receiving corps a boost and their performance on Sunday grades out at a C.
In order to ensure that the Tim Tebow experiment is a success in Denver, the Broncos will have to do a much better job of protecting their quarterback than they did on Sunday. Often criticized for how quickly he decides to tuck the ball and run, Tebow was given little chance to throw from the pocket as it was collapsing around him all day against the Dolphins.
All of the Miami defenders were in on the attack. They sacked Tebow seven ties and knocked him down on nine more occasions. The offensive line must do better.
In order to give Tebow a chance to improve his pocket presence, the line must ensure there is a pocket to begin with and that it will hold up. Only then will they be able to capitalize on Tebow's dual threat nature, both running the ball and passing it.
The offensive line showed lots o fareas for improvement Sunday, and grade out at a D+.
Perhaps the Broncos' offense appeared to be so ineffective in some part due to the shortcomings early on of the special teams unit. Given the chance at two very makable field goals, kicker Matt Prater missed from 43 yards and 49 yards out in the first half.
Both were especially painful considering that, were they successful, the game would have been tied going into halftime. The special teams were also shaping up for failing grades.
However, with just over two minutes remaining, the Broncos' special teams recovered an on-sides kick, without which, the final game tying drive would have been impossible. It was a crucial turnabout, as the game would have been all but over had Miami recovered.
Then, in overtime, Prater was awarded his chance at redemption in the form of a 52-yard attempt. This time, his aim was true and Prater gave the Broncos an 18-15 victory.
In that these two special teams were critical to the Broncos' win, the special teams made up for their previous failures to earn a grade of C+.
Overall, the Denver Broncos' defense graded out at a B on Sunday. Even though they were matched up against the 0-5 Miami Dolphins, they did a good job of forcing their opponent to kick field goals for much of the game. Not receiving any help from the offense early on, the defense finally yielded a touchdown, but still held Miami to just 15 points on the day.
Additionally, the Broncos' defense stepped up with a monumental turnover in overtime to put the team in a position to win the game.
Due to the fact they they held serve most of the day, and came up with a critical play to aide in the victory, as a whole the Broncos' defense was above average most of the day.
The Broncos' defensive line had a decent game on Sunday. Although it was nothing flashy, they put in a workmanlike effort. They held the Dolphins to under 100 yards rushing as a team, and although they didn't reek havoc on Miami quarterback Matt Moore, they continued to apply enough pressure to force the issue.
Because of their steady approach all game long, and their ability to hold the Dolphins running game in Check, the Denver defensive line grades out at a B on Sunday.
The Denver Broncos' linebacker corps was much improved Sunday, and a bright spot in the Denver defense. Rookie Von Miller and veteran D.J. Williams accounted for half of the Broncos' sacks on the day, and Williams also made the play of the day, forcing a fumble in overtime to give the Broncos possession on the Miami 35 yard line.
The linebackers were all over the field and received solid performances from Wesley Woodyard and Joe Mays in addition to Miller and Williams. Miller, off to a hot start to his rookie campaign had come back to earth against San Diego, but seemed to return to his disruptive, energizing self Sunday.
All together, the linebackers performed very well, and forced a key play which lead directly to the game's winning field goal. The Broncos' linebackers earned a well deserved A for this game.
When the Broncos' defense finally did lapse, it was in the secondary.
Early in the fourth quarter, Miami found passing lanes and quarterback Matt Moore connected for successive 10+ yard gains to wide-outs Brandon Marshall, Davone Bess, and finally tight end Anthony Fasano for a 16-yard touchdown reception.
At the time, with the Broncos offense appearing so inept, it looked like that might hold up to be the difference in the game.
However, with the exception of that one series, the secondary did fairly well, allowing less than 200 yards through the air, and safety Brian Dawkins contributing with two quarterback sacks. Overall, the Broncos' secondary grades out at a C for their performance on Sunday.
Ultimately, the coaching staff earns a grad of a B- in Sunday's win. Winning cures many ills, and the fact the Broncos were victorious certainly impacted the coaches' high marks.
However, there is certainly room for improvement. Somehow the staff must devise a way to inject life into the offense much early than the second half of the fourth quarter, and keep from having to rely on Tim Tebow to work miracles.
Furthermore, they must make more of an effort to utilize his strengths in the game, as they finally did at the end, and loosen the reign a little and allow Tebow to play his game.
It wasn't pretty, and their opponents were winless on the season, but at least the Dolphins are still winless, and the Broncos, at 2-4 – although they certainly have much room for improvement – are somehow still not totally out of the race in the AFC West.