Tim Tebow apparently sees the playoffs as one giant fourth quarter.
Tebow completed three of the four longest passes of his career and hit Demaryius Thomas for the winning touchdown in the shortest overtime in NFL history as the Broncos knocked off the Steelers to keep their magical ride going.
But there’s a good chance you already know that.
Given that today’s Steelers-Broncos game was probably one of the most watched games in the history of sports, and that the Twitter world exploded on a half-dozen occasions as both teams trended throughout the afternoon and evening, you probably already know that Tebow threw for over 300 yards against the league’s best pass defense.
You’re probably also aware that Demaryius Thomas had just the seventh 200-yard receiving performance in postseason history. And that Tebow averaged 31.6 yards per completion in one of the most shocking performances in football history.
And now you’re probably wondering when — or if — the run will end.
It’s easy to laud Tebow when he wins and fire away when he loses, I understand that. But anyone who watched No. 15 on Sunday would have to admit, no matter how begrudgingly, that he looked like a legit franchise quarterback.
Yeah, he threw some wobblers and made a few curious decisions. But he was on more than he was off, making clutch throws in clutch situations in all four quarters, the best of which came on the very first play of a modified sudden death overtime that didn’t even come to its expected non-sudden death fruition.
This came to cap a week in which the scuttlebutt had Brady Quinn pushing for playing time in this game. If Tebow struggled, we were told — not by the team, but by sources of sources of sources — that Quinn would get a shot. We heard that John Elway was looking for any excuse to throw a real quarterback under center.
And despite the scrutiny, Tebow and his offense scored 29 points against one of the best defenses in the league. They beat a great playoff quarterback and a superb, experienced playoff defense despite getting the worst of a few controversial calls and non-calls (including a fumble recovery off a lateral pass that was ruined by an inexplicable whistle, as well as two, maybe three, clear facemask penalties).
They beat that great playoff quarterback and that superb, experienced playoff defense despite a lack of a pass rush (remember, the bread and butter of this team?) for much of the game. They beat them despite a Willis McGahee fumble in the final minutes that seemed to queue the signing of their death certificate.
You’ll now hear pious puns throughout the week. Of course you will. And it should be clear that, God and his son notwithstanding, No. 15 got help on Sunday, a lot of it.
For starters, that sometimes absent pass rush was big when it mattered. Rather quietly, they finished with five sacks, three of which came on Pittsburgh’s final drive. If you only take Ben Roethlisberger down twice on that possession, you lose the game.
And then there was Champ Bailey, who deserves his own island merely for the work he did on Mike Wallace. He broke up a handful of would-be Roethlisberger completions, including one in the end zone in the dying minutes.
You’ll hear excuses from Steelers fans this week, too. They didn’t have Ryan Clark. Roethlisberger was hobbled. Rashard Mendenhall was down (although Isaac Redman had a hell of a game). Ditto for Maurkice Pouncey.
Yeah, Pittsburgh was shorthanded. But so were the Packers when they made their championship run last year. And so are the Patriots, who are sitting still on the tracks as a freight train approaches Saturday night. Besides, the Broncos won this game without their own borderline All-Pro, guard Chris Kuper. And Tebow’s favorite target (until today at least), Eric Decker, suffered a knee injury early.
Everyone’s got injuries.
I don’t know what’s next for the Broncos. The Tebow storyline gets a lot of pub, and it can become exhausting. But no matter how much we try to hide it, the majority of us football fans are appreciative of the drama and at least somewhat curious to see how the story ends.
So the really good news is that, based on what happened today, and regardless of what happens in the divisional playoffs when Tebow and the Broncos face a Pats team that just signed former Tebow mentor Josh McDaniels, #TebowTime will probably extend into 2012 and beyond.