Denver Broncos: Breaking Down Every Tim Tebow Start This NFL Season
His favorite play is the Hail Mary. Superman wears his pajamas to bed. When he touches water, it turns into Gatorade.
Somehow, someway, this guy finds a way to pull a win out of the jaws of defeat every Sunday afternoon.
Tebow, of all active NFL quarterbacks right now, has the lowest interception rate and third-highest touchdown percentage. He is 6-1 this season and 7-3 career as a starter.
Football fans, not just those in Denver, love to support the creator of Tebow-ing. He has the sixth-best selling jersey between April and December 2011, behind only the ranks of Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Troy Polamalu, Tom Brady and Drew Brees.
With his unorthodox style of play and large amount of media attention because of his professed values, Tebow faces adversity every time he steps onto the football field.
But it’s not just the way he plays or what he does off the field. His dramatic late game performances week after week make him must-watch television.
In the first three quarters this season, Tebow is 39-92 (42.2 percent) for 475 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions for a 77.0 passer rating.
Just in fourth quarters this season, Tebow is 31-53 (58.5 percent) for 490 yards, four touchdowns and one interception for a 106.6 passer rating.
There’s quite a difference between his first half and second half performances.
It seems hard to believe but he is Captain Clutch.
How does he do it? How has he found a way to win six out of his seven starts this season?
Inside this article, we’ll go game by game and reflect on how he managed to pick up more than a handful of victories and, in doing so, has the Broncos in the driver’s seat of the AFC West.
Here’s a look back on all seven of Tebow’s 2011 starts:
Week 7 at Miami Dolphins (W, 18-15 in OT)
Tim Tebow Statistics: 13/27, 161 yards, 2 touchdowns, 9 rushes, 59 yards
In his first week as the starter replacing current Kansas City Chiefs QB Kyle Orton, Tebow began his 2011 season where his collegiate game ended—Florida.
Tebow’s debut was absolutely horrible for the first 54 minutes. During that span, Tebow completed just 4-14 passes for 40 yards.
Down just 15-0 with 6:00 to go in the game, Tebow was able to conjure up two touchdown drives—one of 80 yards and one of 56 yards—with an onside kick sandwiched in-between.
After scoring the second touchdown with 0:17 left in regulation, the Broncos had no choice but to go for the two-point conversion as the score was 15-13, Miami.
One QB power run later from the spread, and the score was deadlocked at 15-15.
The defense performed for the Broncos in overtime. Denver forced Dolphins QB Matt Moore to fumble, which led to a game-winning 52-yard field goal.
It wasn’t a pretty debut for Tebow, but he showed he was effective when he had to be in crunch time.
Week 8 vs Detroit Lions (L, 45-10)
Tim Tebow Statistics: 18/39, 172 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception, 10 rushes, 63 yards
Tebow came out in Week 8 looking to silence those who criticized his poor start a week prior in Miami. And he nearly did just that. He left a touchdown on the field early when WR Eric Decker couldn’t haul in a touchdown pass in the back of the endzone with two feet in-bounds.
That was the closest the Broncos would come to taking the lead. This game was an overall embarrassment to the home crowd.
Detroit’s defense was able to pick on Tebow. Cliff Avril had a forced fumble which led to a score, and Chris Houston had a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown.
All in all, the Lions ran off 45 unanswered points in the game.
Poor ball handling and five Denver fumbles (leading to two turnovers) did the Broncos in in Tebow’s home debut.
You can’t only point the finger at Tebow for this loss. Denver’s defense was nowhere to be found, and the backfield coughed up the ball regularly.
Week 9 at Oakland Raiders (W, 38-24)
Tim Tebow Statistics: 10/21, 124 yards, 2 touchdowns, 13 rushes, 118 yards
Fortunate for the Broncos a week after getting embarrassed defensively against Detroit, the Broncos were headed to Oakland for Carson Palmer’s Raiders debut. And Denver sure played like it was out to remove the bad taste of poor play from their mouths.
The Raiders were able to get off to a first half lead, 17-7. By buying time in the pocket and tucking and running more often, Tebow was able to become a bit more versatile than previous weeks had seen.
He was able to cap off two drives in the contest for scores, but the game winning score wasn’t his doing this week.
Receiver Eddie Royal had an 80 yard touchdown return in the 4th quarter that proved to be the dagger.
Tebow was able to do so well this week because of one reason – starting field position. The defense intercepted Palmer three times, which gave ample field position to the Broncos offense.
One interesting nugget to take away from this game is that Tebow didn't attempt a single pass in the final 15:00 of the ball game.
Week 10 at Kansas City Chiefs (W, 17-10)
Tim Tebow Statistics: 2/8, 69 yards, 1 touchdown, 9 rushes, 43 yards, 1 touchdown
After not attempting a pass in the entire fourth quarter of Week 9, Tebow came out Week 10 by continuing to work the running attack. He didn’t complete a pass (0-4) in the first quarter of this week’s game against the Chiefs.
An early rushing touchdown for Tebow, though, led to a Broncos 7-0 start.
That early score was important for the Broncos because both Knowsean Moreno and Willis McGahee went down in the game due to injury. Lance Ball would step in for the banged up backs and finished the game just shy of 100 yards.
One would assume to make up for the lack of rushing, Tebow would need to lead an aerial assault.
Well, that didn’t happen. Tebow didn’t even complete his first pass until 4:00 remaining in the third.
As a matter of fact, Tebow completed just two balls all day. One was a short gain, while the other was a 56-yard touchdown to Eric Decker.
It wasn’t pretty, but a steady dose of rushing and prayer carried Tebow and Co. to victory.
Week 11 vs New York Jets (W, 17-13)
Tim Tebow Statistics: 9/20, 104 yards, 8 rushes, 68 yards, 1 touchdown
Meet Tim Tebow, game manager extraordinaire.
Tebow mattered as much to this game as any fans in the crowd. That is, until there was 6:00 left again.
The Jets saw the blueprint for the Dolphins win all over again.
And this game does fall on the shoulders of New York’s defense. They left the flats totally unguarded against a guy who had 100 yards passing and scrambles often, especially in the final few minutes.
Just like the Broncos suffered a week prior, the Jets were without LaDainian Tomlinson and lost Shonn Greene in the first quarter with a rib injury. The Jets were one-dimensional, and that’s what led to this game being tied 3-3 at half.
Down 10-3 in the second half, the Broncos were able to score the game-tying touchdown via an Andre Goodman pick-six in the third quarter. The offense was responsible for so little in this game.
The first offensive touchdown came on a Tebow scramble from the Jets' 20-yard line with just under 5:00 left to take a 17-13 lead. That would prove to be the final say.
Yet again, Tebow managed to make something out of nothing in a late-game situation. You think teams would learn how to defend him by now.
Week 12 at San Diego Chargers (W, 16-13 in OT)
Tim Tebow Statistics: 9/18, 143 yards, 1 touchdown, 22 rushes, 67 yards
Simply put, the Broncos won this game by running the ball down the throats of the San Diego Chargers.
Tebow himself had 22 attempts on the ground.
The offensive line won the game for the Broncos. With a solid ground attack, the Broncos and Chargers were tied up at 13-13 with 1:38 to go in the game—overtime was apparent.
The Chargers and Broncos were out to make the most of the full overtime session. The teams would go back and forth with possession until San Diego took a shot at a game-winning field goal with 3:20 left in OT.
Right before Novak’s 53-yard try, Norv Turner called timeout. You know what comes next. On the second try for the field goal, Novak missed just wide right.
The Broncos had the ball on San Diego’s own 43-yard line. A couple big McGahee runs set up a 37-yard field goal for yet another Denver victory.
How did Tebow do it this week? He tucked and ran often and followed his blockers well. He also didn’t try to do anything ridiculous outside his skill set.
Turner also is to thank for another Tebow winner.
Week 13 at Minnesota Vikings (W, 35-32)
Tim Tebow Statistics: 10/15, 202 yards, 2 touchdown, 4 rushes, 13 yards
In the latest installment of Tim Tebow vs. the world, this was the best pocket presence Tebow has yet to date.
Tebow wasn’t as run-happy as he was against the Chargers. He only tucked and ran four times. Instead, Tebow stayed in the pocket and commanded the offense through the air.
Down 22-14 in the third, Tebow shook off two tackles before finding Thomas for a 41-yard score to make the game 22-21, Vikings. After Percy Harvin’s second touchdown of the game, McGahee broke the goalline to counter, making the score 29-27, Minnesota.
This late in the game down by two, Denver had to attempt the two-point conversion hoping to tie the game. And who do you think called his own number? The Tebow run from a couple yards out knotted the game 29-29.
Each team would then tack on a field goal to make the game a 32-32 affair. Then, with only a few minutes to go, Vikings rookie QB Christian Ponder made a critical mistake deep in his own territory. He tossed an interception that set up a potential game winning field goal with 0:02 left.
Sure enough, it went through and Tebow picked up a sixth win in seven tries.
He doesn’t throw interceptions (none in last 97 pass attempts dating back to Week 8). He manages time when he has to. He has the ability to tuck and run and keep plays alive with his feet.
Say what you will, but the man wins games. Will his luck continue this week against the Chicago Bears Sunday afternoon in Denver? That much remains to be unseen.
Brett Lyons is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official interview materials.
Follow Brett Lyons on Twitter @BrettLyons670.
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