Tim Tebow by the Numbers: Breaking Passing Records vs the Pittsburgh Steelers

The DenverSportsNut@DenverSportNutContributor IIIJanuary 12, 2012

Throw 'Dem (Te)Bows!
Throw 'Dem (Te)Bows!Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The biggest criticism of Tim Tebow is that he “can’t throw the ball.”  Here are a bunch of ridiculous, mind-blowing, record-breaking numbers that clearly refute that.   These numbers aren't from just any game.  They are from the Denver Broncos Wild Card playoff victory against Pittsburgh - those mighty Steelers with the #1 rated defense in the NFL.

Throughout the regular season, the Steelers had only give up six completions of 30+ yards.  Tim Tebow threw five of them in the game.  More astounding is that Pittsburgh had only given up a total of seven plays, of any kind, of 30 yards or more ALL year.   All five of Tebow's passes, by the way, were completed 15 yards or more beyond the line of scrimmage (so this isn’t a WR on a slip screen padding Tebow’s stats).  Not once all year had the Steelers allowed a 30-yard pass play to be completed on third down.  Tebow’s’ 51-yard completion to Demaryius Thomas was on third down. 

Tebow is the first player to have four completions of 30 yards or more in one quarter of a playoff game in the modern era (since 1960) and the first in any game since Warren Moon in 1990.

In the last 10 years, the perennially defensive-minded Steelers had never given up more than two passes of fifty yards in any one game.  Tebow threw three of them.  This gets, somehow, even more impressive when you learn that Pittsburgh had only given up one pass of more than 45 yards all year (and in that case, most of the yards came after the catch)

Further, in the playoffs, no QB since the NFL/AFL merger in 1970 had ever completed three 50+ yard passes in a game.  "And Tebow can't throw," they say?!

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Tebow connected four times with Demaryius Thomas for 204 yards.  The Steelers hadn’t allowed a 100-yard receiver since Jordy Nelson did it in last year’s Super Bowl.  Only 103 of those yards were gained after the catch, meaning that Tebow’s throws were significant (especially when you consider that the 80 yard game-winner only traveled 16 yards in the air and 64 after the catch).

Don't be a D(oubting) Thomas!
Don't be a D(oubting) Thomas!Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Not a single passer threw for more than 300 yards against the Steelers this year.  Tebow finished with 316.

On 10 completions (for a still-too-low 47.6 completion percentage) out of 21 attempts, Tebow averaged 15.6 yards per attempt – one of the highest totals in recent NFL history in any game. Doing the math then, you see that Tebow averaged 31.6 yards per completion, which is the highest amount in NFL postseason history.  He is the only QB in the Super Bowl Era to ever throw for 300 yards on only 10 attempts.

Tebow ran for 50 yards and a touchdown as well.  He joins Joe Montana and Aaron Rodgers as the only NFL QBs to ever run for a TD, throw for 300 yards, and not throw any interceptions in a playoff game.

Tim Tebow’s passer rating was 125.6, which was the highest in Broncos postseason history.  Tim Tebow also set the Denver Broncos yardage record for a postseason debut, breaking Elway’s record (by almost 200 yards, so it wasn’t a high bar to set).

Using ESPN's QBR formula for quarterbacks, Tim Tebow scored a 97.3/100, the highest ever recorded for the stat, which was started in 2008.  Unlike the traditional QB rating formula, this statistic rewards QBs for throwing downfield, making plays with their feet, and completing passes in the clutch.  Tebow did all three.

Tim Tebow is only the fifth QB since 1970 to throw for at least 300 yards and two TDs in his postseason debut. 

This grass really is greener on this side of the 50...
This grass really is greener on this side of the 50...Jeff Gross/Getty Images

This is the second time in his first 15 games as a starter that Tebow has thrown for 300 yards.  Although this isn’t historically significant, compare this to the three standard-bearers in the NFL for throwing ability, none of whom started as a rookie either:

  • Tom Brady: two 300-yard passing games 
  • Drew Brees: two 300-yard passing games 
  • Aaron Rodgers: three 300-yard passing games

Nobody in their right mind would say that Tim Tebow is on-par with these guys right now.  But these guys all have 6-10 years of playing experience. However, it is perfectly reasonable to compare Tebow to them during their first season of starting (I always hear, "really, you're comparing Tim Tebow to the great Drew Brees?"  Yes, actually, I am.).  And Tebow doesn’t seem to be any better or worse than the game’s top three current passers were when they were inexperienced. 

Tebow’s game-winning, overtime touchdown pass of 80 yards was the longest such play in NFL playoff history.  Completed in less than 11 seconds, it was also the quickest ending to an overtime game in either regular season or playoff history.  One can only imagine if Tim Tebow's honeymoon will last that long!?

The 80-yard pass ties John Elway’s franchise record for longest pass in the postseason.

The play didn't just set records on the field, though.  It set a record at Twitter as well, with 9,420 tweets per second about the game winning toss.  Even Lady Gaga jumped on the Tebow Tweeting bandwagon!

With every Tebow win, I get exponentially more famous.  And loud.
With every Tebow win, I get exponentially more famous. And loud.Allen Kee/Getty Images

Yet, this only touches on Tebow’s popularity. 

ESPN’s recent poll shows that Tim Tebow is America’s favorite athlete.  It was the fastest any athlete has ever risen to the top (and since 1994, there have only been 11 people to head this list).

To reach the top:

  • Kobe Bryant – 11 years
  • Lebron James – 8 years
  • Tiger Woods – 3 years
  • Tim Tebow – 2 years

Further, ESPN’s program First Take set a record Monday after Tebow’s game-winning throw.  It became the most-watched in the program’s history.  It is no coincidence that it was the fourth time since October that Tebow-mania has broken the viewership record.  For better or worse, Tim Tebow is the horse (Bronco?!) that people want to hitch their wagon to.  Careers may be made (Skip Bayless) or broken (pretty much everyone else, but starting with Merrill Hodge) based on support - or lack of support - of Tebow.

Clearly, Tebow can throw.  He also moves the meter.  The Broncos verse Steelers playoff game drew 42.4 million viewers, the second most watched event in the last calendar year …since the Super Bowl.  This is the highest-rated opening round playoff game since 1988, which was before the (significant) rise of Cable TV, video games, the Internet, iPads, and stalking ex-lovers on Facebook. 

Finally, Tebow earned a $250,000 after the game for having completed 70% of the Broncos plays this year.  So, now, Tebow can tell all the former players and talking heads, who were so completely wrong about his ability to not only play QB, but also throw if given the chance, to go buy a clue. 

Most stats were found from (and in) a variety of sources, including ESPN, Elias, CBS Sports, and NBC Sports.  


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