There's an old saying on The Sopranos that summed up the theme of the show: "You're only as good as your last envelope."
For the Broncos lately, it appears you're only as good as your last drive.
But really, if you didn't care about media marketing, a more accurate headline may have read "Denver's defense does it again" or "Marion Barbers' brain freeze ices the Bears."
Unless you watched the game or read the recap, you'd never know it, because Tim Tebow and his offense was the last unit on the field. Actually, no, they weren't. It was Denver's special teams and a kicker named...who was that again? Tim Tebow? Jason Elam? No, silly! It was Matt Prater.
And let's not forget about Marion Barber.
After all, it was Barber who failed to stay inbounds with time winding down and the Broncos at the mercy of the Bears. Instead, the running back ran out of bounds with under two minutes left. It was ill advised, considering the Broncos were out of timeouts and would have likely received the ball with about 15 seconds left in the game.
Barber is the employee, but it starts with the management. Frankly, the coach and the offensive coordinator have some major explaining to do.
In overtime, Barber spun his way through a pair of Broncos defenders and headed for daylight inside the Broncos' 30 yard line. Eager to make up for his lack of fundamentals on the Bears' prior drive, he instead fumbled the ball at the Broncos' 33 yard line with their ace kicker, Robbie Gould, on the sideline where he had to stay.
Never mind a Broncos defense which held the inept Bears offense to seven three-and-outs.
Never mind Tim Tebow starting the game completing three of his first 15 passes, or a Broncos kicker who was clutch with a pair of long field goals.
Tim Tebow led his team down the field for the tying field goal and the subsequent winning field goal, and that's what will be remembered.
It's a great story. Tim Tebow is a likable and excellent role model and you have to give the Broncos a ton of credit. But against Bill Belichick, he might need to work his "magic" for more than the last five minutes of the fourth quarter.
The Broncos have been the most dramatic story in the NFL this season and Tim Tebow is good for the ratings, but they have also been very lucky. Except for the Lions, who blew them out, they have enjoyed a break with scheduling in each and every game Tebow has started.
Interestingly enough, the single 35 point loss to the Lions is just two points shy of the point total (37) of Denver's seven combined wins since Tebow took over as the starter.
It started with a comeback win over Matt Moore and a weak Miami team which just fired their coach, then the Broncos came down to earth against the Lions before they employed the read-option offense. The new look surprised the Raiders and their new quarterback Carson Palmer who was fresh off the recliner.
After a win over Matt Cassell, Tyler Palko and the offensively inept Chiefs, where Tebow went 2-of-8 passing, they scored 10 offensive points in a win over the Jets who had the disadvantage of traveling west off a short week.
A turnover free game allowed an overtime win at San Diego. You can say the Broncos beat a quality quarterback in that one, but upon further analysis, one must wonder how mentally prepared Phillip Rivers has been this season with six children to take care of and attend to during the week, including a newborn. He's a great man and it's a very beautiful thing. But from a business standpoint, especially as a starting quarterback in the NFL, it potentially takes away from film study, focus and game preparation time during the week. Point being, the Broncos didn't beat a great Chargers team, as this season's team from San Diego is unfocused and their coach is among the softest in the NFL.
This time it's Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and Belichick will not be happy coming back to Foxboro with a loss to Tim Tebow.
Belichick, perceived by many to be the NFL's smartest coach, is a model of perfectionism. From leaving the starters in for all 16 games during the undefeated 2007 season, to playing them last season against the Bills when they had the playoff seeding all wrapped up, Belichick and his players are always ultra-competitive.
When a pair of teams are perceived by the experts in Las Vegas to be about equal, odds makers usually set the home team as a three point favorite in the NFL. With the Patriots favored by about six points, they are basically saying they think the Patriots are nine points better, despite Denver's 7-1 record with Tim Tebow.
All one would have to do is stare down the glamorous architecture (and the cost to build such a structure) on a Las Vegas night to agree that odds makers are usually right.
Denver's defense has been spectacular for most of Tebow's games, but they buckled against the two best offenses they faced (Detroit and Green Bay) and allowed Christian Ponder to pass for almost 400 yards, so one must wonder if the unit will be able to hold the Patriots to under 30 points.
Except for a three game "hiatus" against the Giants, Steelers and Cowboys, New England has scored at least 30 points in all its games and won nine of its 10 games by at least a touchdown. Expect Belichick to review film of the Broncos' recent match ups with Minnesota, Green Bay and Detroit to draw up the winning recipe for Tom Brady to expose the Broncos' defense with his weapons.
New England's defensive unit is the team's question mark, but their main vulnerability is play in the secondary against pinpoint passing which Tim Tebow generally does not employ. Although the Patriots' defense is last in the league in yards allowed, just one team has scored 30 points on them and that was the Bills before there was a plethora of film on Fitzpatrick and his receivers.
They say defense wins games, but this season, defense certainly doesn't lose games.
This season it seems as if throwing the ball down the field is the winning recipe.
The Patriots are last in the league in pass defense, which would hurt them against quarterbacks like Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers who can zip a 35 yard out-play between the numbers. However they are 13th in run defense, which is better suited against Tim Tebow.
The Patriots did allow Dan Orlovsky, one of the NFL's least talented quarterbacks, to pass for 347 yards, but let's keep in mind it was a 31-3 game heading into the fourth quarter and the two final touchdowns for the Colts came inside the last two-and-a-half minutes.
Through all this, New England's defense is still allowing two points per game less than Denver's unit.
On the flip side, Tebow's success has mainly come at the end of games when opposing defenses go into the prevent mode, so count on Belichick, who is always smart and aware, to clean up the defensive game plan in lieu of making the same mistake the other teams did.
The Patriots started preparing for this game before they left Washington.
"All of us were watching the game last night on the airplane; just as we were taking off was when they came back and won the game," said Tom Brady (via ESPNBoston.com).
Tebow, who often looks like he is in slow motion when throwing the ball down the field or even a short distance, has passed for over 53 percent efficiency in just one of his eight starts.
It's a strikingly interesting similarity to the Chicago Bears in 2004.
Back in 2001, a guy by the name of Craig Krenzel won the starting job at Ohio State late in the season, and led the Buckeyes to a win at Michigan before taking over the job for good in 2002.
Like Tebow, he led Ohio State to a national championship, which was good enough to earn him a selection in the 2004 NFL draft.
His stats were hardly impressive.
Krenzel's first game came against the San Francisco 49ers, who were also coming in at 1-5, much like Tebow's first start at Miami.
Like Tebow's Broncos in Miami, Krenzel's Bears won the game on a late 71 yard interception return, but they also won Krenzel's second start at the New York Giants despite a paltry 8-21 passing from Krenzel, as the Bears got five turnovers out of the Giants.
Like Tebow, Krenzel won once again in his third start at Tennessee, as the 49ers scored on an interception return, a punt return, and finally scored a safety in overtime for a 19-17 win.
Krenzel was just 10-28 passing for 116 yards, and that's where the buck stopped.
Krenzel lost his next start against Peyton Manning and the Colts by a score of 41-10.
Expect a similar result in Denver this Sunday against the Patriots.
Follow Mark all season at www.TheFallMiracle.com
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