On Sunday Tebow threw a bullet across the middle, hit Demaryius Thomas in stride, and watched the gifted receiver stave off tacklers in an electrifying 80-yard pass play that gave the team a victory and a date with the Patriots in Foxborough, tonight, in the AFC Divisional Playoff game.
Watch this play here [beware the ads that precede it though].
Tim Tebow proved his mettle as a passer to many doubters and restored his own confidence, putting firmly behind him the three game losing streak with which he led the Broncos into the playoffs. Added to his devastating potential as a running-back*, his demonstrated potential as a passer secures his place as a dangerous and valuable NFL starting quarterback.
The emergence of other young players is a further source of encouragement. Thomas looks like the big strong speedy target he was advertised to be coming out of GA Tech. The delay in his development may derive in part from the offense he played in college: Tech’s triple-option leaves room for only a handful of throws each game. Thomas put up great yardage but his number of actual catches was way down compared to a WR out of a more standard offense. So in addition to several injuries, including a blown Achilles tendon, Thomas is still learning how to catch the ball.
Young Broncos propel a pretty effective outside pass rush. Von Miller in a cast is better than the average OLB. Meanwhile, Robert Ayers had a great game on Sunday, and the undersized but robustly named Elvis Dumerville continues his effectiveness.
The Broncos will have to get a safety to replace the great Brian Dawkins, and another RB to complement Willis McGehee, arguably the comeback player of the year in the NFL. They still need good runstoppers on defense as well: almost anyone can run on this defense.
But all that is in the future: an emphatically bright one for the Broncos. For the present, there is a chance to upset Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the formidable New England Patriots — a chance essentially no one expected.
* The TD run on Sunday, where Tebow scored from 8 yards out, was a play of ancient grace and power, timing crowned with brutal force: the left guard, Zane Beadles, pulled and blocked right; as there was no handoff to delay the runner, which was the 240-pound Tebow, the Broncos contrived to deploy many hundred pounds of human muscle into the Steeler backfield, a pulling guard and fullback-size QB, in a couple seconds. The chance of even a good defense stopping Tebow, led by a 300-pounder 4 yards downfield before he’s touched, may be illustrated in the hilariously impotent lunge made by Steelers’ safety Troy Polamalu to stop him short of the goal line: a desperate attempt that barely even phased Beadles, Tebow’s escort on the play, who stood like a stonewall as Polamalu crumpled well short of the quarterback.
Watch this play here.