NFL Playoffs 2012: 3 Things We Learned About Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos

Bobby Kittleberger@robertwilliam9Correspondent IJanuary 9, 2012

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 08:  Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos motions to a receiver during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Sports Authority Field against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Mile High on January 8, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Steelers in overtime 23-29.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos, regardless of what happens in New England next week, are officially the biggest story of this year’s NFL season.

The hype isn’t the issue anymore and rightly so. Hype isn’t tangible. It isn’t measurable by any standard and often isn’t based on any real result or accomplishment.  Rather, Tim Tebow has put the hype about him second in line to what he has actually accomplished.

Everything the Broncos needed from him as their quarterback he has been able to do and never in a more defining fashion then he did on Sunday—beating the Pittsburgh Steelers with his arm, and setting a Broncos record by eclipsing John Elway himself for most passing yards by a quarterback in his first playoff game in a Denver uniform.

So what changed from the Kansas City game of Week 17? A lot.

We learned more about Tebow perhaps then we were able to glean all year, not the least of which is one of the most important factors when predicting Tebow’s success—his confidence.

The Broncos were not “expected” to win this game like they were against Kansas City. As far as most sports commentators, experts and radio personality’s were concerned, Tebow wasn’t given a snow ball’s chance in hell of succeeding against the most suffocating defense the NFL has to offer. This is exactly where Tim Tebow needs to be.  

Lest we forget, Tebow actually had a good game against the New England Patriots in Week 15; rather it was the Broncos defense that wasn’t able to hold the line against Tom Brady and the Aaron Hernandez-Rob Gronkowski receiving tandem.  One of the most basic traits Tebow has is that he thrives on confidence and plays better when expectations are lowered.

This bodes extremely well for him during the rest of the postseason as anything aside from today’s win will be considered icing on the cake. He’s already exceeded expectations in Denver and having that weight lifted off of him going forward will likely ensure even greater confidence in the games ahead.

Moving right along, Tebow is now confident, great. That’s a plus for everyone involved, but what about his throwing? Again, this is something we have even greater clarity on after his first playoff game.

The kid can throw, and he can throw well.

Whether it’s a lack of confidence, dropped passes or just pressure from all of the hype surrounding him, Tebow has had some downright awful games when it comes to passing the ball. Whatever the cause, it wasn’t an issue during Sunday’s game.

It was obvious that with John Elway’s encouragement to let loose, and lowered expectations, we were able to see that Tebow’s reads and throwing ability are every bit as good now as they were in college. I would make the case that anyone who wants to comment on his throwing ability now needs to realize and keep in mind that he was an excellent passer at Florida. He still is, and with a little freedom and nothing to lose, saying he’s “good enough” in the passing game, isn’t good enough.

His passing game yesterday was great. He hit receivers in stride, had great form, looked off safeties and read plays like a pro. Let’s be clear, he owes a lot of credit to Mike McCoy who called an excellent game on the offensive side of the ball.

He opened up the run with some great pass plays and forced the Steelers to play the run a bit more conservatively. But at the end of the day, Tebow made great throws and you can’t ask for much more. Tebow’s throwing is just fine, and he will continue to improve moving forward.

Moving forward indeed, it obviously begs the question, "what will things look like from here on out for the Broncos?" I’ve already said that anything else the Denver Broncos are able to accomplish this year will be gravy. This team will be better next year and will likely be the favorite to win the AFC West division.

There is, however, one more thing that we’ve learned about this team as they’ve captured the spotlight of the entire NFL season—they thrive on momentum.

The decisive win over the Oakland Raiders in Week 9 gave way to the six-game winning streak that ultimately propelled Denver into the postseason.  Taking a loss to New England in Week 15 though proved to have the same effect, sending Denver to three straight losses. This certainly shows that week-to-week momentum means a lot to the Broncos and Tim Tebow when determining their confidence level.

While losses have a certain negative impact on this team, wins (like the one we saw yesterday) have a profound and lasting positive impact just the same. Simply put, Denver picked an excellent time to start building momentum with a historically epic first-round win. The momentum of this game will undoubtedly carry into the week(s) to come, and with Tebow free from the “does he have what it takes” talk, he’ll be more dangerous and competitive than ever.

Regardless of whether or not they beat New England, Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos are the greatest success story of the NFL this year. That part of the ride is for all intents and purposes over. All that’s left for Tebow and the Broncos to do is to play their game, and we can rest assured when that game is played, it's fun to watch and friendly as could be to the Denver win column.

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