Why Tim Tebow's Legacy Is Really the Denver Broncos Defense's Legacy

Christopher Smith@MileHighMentorCorrespondent IIIDecember 6, 2011

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 17: Mario Haggan #59 kisses Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos following the game against the New York Jets at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 17, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/Getty Images)
Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

All the talk of the league continues to revolve around Tim Tebow and his late-game heroics.

But what's actually happening in Denver?

Who's really to credit for the Broncos' huge second-half turnaround in 2011? Is it the quarterback that everyone's heard of? Or could it be the defense that few are discussing?

Sunday's game against the Vikings allowed Denver to showcase its many talents. Yes, Tebow did his thing again. He lead this Broncos offense into position to win another game late.

But there's another factor that came into play much earlier than the fourth quarter.

Denver's defense displayed a certain air of resilience against Minnesota in Week 13.

Without their leading pass-rusher and defensive team leader Von Miller, the Denver defense was expected to suffer a setback on Sunday.

Instead, Miller's replacement, Mario Haggan, took advantage of a poor throw by rookie QB Christian Ponder in the first quarter—intercepting it and returning it for a touchdown.

This isn't the first time the Broncos defense has come up big to keep the team in the game.

Against the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football just two weeks ago, CB Andre Goodman returned an errant Mark Sanchez pass for a touchdown in what would arguably be the deciding factor in the game.

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 17:  Cornerback Andre' Goodman #21 of the Denver Broncos returns an interception of a pass by quarterback Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets 26 yards for a third quarter touchdown at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

But points aren't the only thing this defense is putting up. It's putting up numbers in critical columns like sacks, turnovers and wins.

Aside from Minnesota's 35-point turnout against Denver on Sunday, this defense has kept opponents off the board almost entirely.

Veterans Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins are anchoring the unit, and allowing the beasts up front to get the job done in the trenches.

Miller is on his way to the Defensive Rookie of the Year award, and sits only four sacks away from tying the rookie season sack record (14.5.)

So why is it that the headlines continue to read "Tebow Wins Again," and "Team Tebow Rolling?"

The real story in Denver is the absolute rejuvenation of defensive dominance.

It's obvious that Tebow is a team player, first and foremost, but the media just doesn't give attention to the team that's allowing him to win.

If this defense performs any less spectacular than they have been, this team goes 0-7 with Tebow in 2011.

How else does a win streak like this result from final scores of 18, 17, 17 and 16? That was the winning team's score. Hard to do that without a defense keeping the other team in the dirt.

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 18:  Linebacker Von Miller #58 of the Denver Broncos salutes to the fans and celebrates with teammates defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson #99 and linebacker Joe Mays #51 after making a sack on Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalto
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The Broncos have now tallied 33 sacks on the year, that's fifth in the league.

They're allowing only 17.8 points per game in Tebow's wins. That's a huge difference compared to 29.5 points per game in Kyle Orton's losses.

And more importantly, this defense is second in the league in defensive touchdowns with three.

Give this legacy and the immaculate resurrection of the Broncos' playoff hopes to the players on the other side of the ball.

It's all good if everyone wants to continue to focus on Tebow and his miracles, but give credit where credit is due.

It will be up to the voters for the defensive awards at the end of the year to remind everyone why this team has gone 6-1 in their last seven and now sit in prime position to take the AFC West division championship in January.


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