Home > Sports > Explaining Tebow and the Broncos: The Physical and the Metaphysical

Explaining Tebow and the Broncos: The Physical and the Metaphysical

Having watched the latest Tebow miracle against the Chicago Bears, I have come to the conclusion that resistance is futile.  There are physical and strategic ways to explain how the Broncos managed to win a game they trailed by ten points with 2 minutes to play, but the set of circumstances that had to all converge at once to make the latest miracle possible, are, depending on your point of view, either coincidental or metaphysical.  Cue up the Twilight Zone music please.

First, Tebow and the Broncos happened to get the Bears on the schedule at a time when Chicago was without both its starting quarterback and running back- out with injuries.  The Bear’s offense without these fellows is just ludicrously, absurdly wretched.  Still, the Bears measly ten points seemed to be enough because the Bronco’s offense was even worse. 

For roughly 58 minutes of the 60-minute game, and true to form during this miracle streak, Tebow and his offense were just horrible.  At one point he had 11 consecutive incomplete passes.  For the first three quarters, he completed only 3 of 16 passes for just 45 yards and an interception.  

And now we come to the other two factors that are just difficult to explain and those involve the bird-brained Chicago Bears.  Tebow finished the game completing 18 of 24 passes that wracked up 191 yards and a touchdown.  This has been happening game after game now in Denver’s improbable road to a 7 and 1 record in their last 8 games with Tebow at the helm.  Horrible stats for three quarters- amazing stats for the final one.

It’s actually not hard to explain.  The NFL has Tebow figured out.  He’s a young quarterback.  He does not have a quick release and he’s green enough that he doesn’t look at a lot of 2nd, 3rd and 4th receiver options.  He basically looks for one main receiver and if he’s not open- he runs.  And he runs well.  Built like a tight end, Tebow doesn’t do much sliding into the turf as most other quarterbacks do.  He runs into defenders and tries to bowl them over and often does.

What makes Tebow successful late in games is that NFL defenses abandon what’s worked against him for 3 quarters and begin to play soft.  With the Broncos perpetually behind, teams play a prevent defense against them, willing to allow yards as long as it’s time consuming and they don’t get into the end zone.  This is where Tebow excels.  For a great explanation of how this works, see this smart article by Steve von Horn, a contributor to SB Nation Chicago.

Why the Bears and other NFL teams continue to play a prevent defense against Tebow after seeing film of game after game in which he exploits it so well, is clueless but explainable.  It’s because they’ve been doing it for years and it usually works.  But von Horn speculates that the first team that plays Tebow in the 4th quarter the same way they’ve played him for the previous three will probably put an end to the Denver miracle.

Then there’s Marion Barber, the back-up Chicago running back who had played seven years in the NFL and apparently learned nothing.  With the Broncos out of time outs and Chicago trying to eat precious seconds, Barber inexplicably let himself get run out of bounds and it stopped the clock and gave Denver the time needed to launch their furious rally against the soft prevent defense.  This is elemental football strategy.  The very definition of running the clock out requires that you stay in bounds. 

And then as the Bears are in field goal range in overtime, Barber runs to Denver’s rescue yet again, failing to hold on to the ball and fumbling it away. 

Let’s not forget that Denver hit a 59-yard field goal to tie the game in regulation.  That’s like 4 yards shy of the all-time NFL record.  And then a 51-yarder to win it all in overtime.  In case you’re not familiar with the game, 50-yard+ field goals don’t come easily.

The fairy tale will come to an end one of these days.  Maybe next week against the New England Patriots.  But for right now, it’s a remarkable thing to watch.  Whatever your feelings about all the religion stuff and that an NFL player, who, say, thanked Allah instead of Jesus after every touchdown, would probably end up on a terrorist watch list – what this young man and his teammates have been accomplishing really is rather miraculous.   

When you break it down it’s sort of explainable.  But when you step back and look at the totality of these last 8 games and everything that’s had to go just right to pull off, among other things, not one, not two, but three overtime victories- you just have to sit back in wonder, shake your head and chuckle.  You may not see anything like this again for a long, long while.

  1. oldschoolpirate
    December 12, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Excellent analysis, but the sudden 4th quarter turnaround wasn’t much of a mystery, really. When was this game played? Sunday! Who’s busy on Sunday? God! He’s on the clock, remember. Most services don’t get out until about 12:30 or so. You would think that The Almighty would be able to participate in some after-church chatter and still make it to the game on time, but it’s not that easy. There’s usually the after-church potluck lunch, then perhaps a committee meeting or youth group skating party or something. Next thing you know, The Omnipotent glances down at his Blackberry and says, “Whoa, where did the time go? I’m like way late!” So, He didn’t even get to the game until the 4th quarter and really had to pull out the stops to get it done, including that gentle puff of Holy Wind to push that 59-yarder through the goal posts at the end of regulation.

  2. Jim Howard
    December 13, 2011 at 4:47 am

    Today I heard Rush Limbaugh talking about how GOD is using T-bone, to deliver football players and football fans to religion. Give me a break. Yes, T-boy, is having a great run, even historic, but Divine – not yet. As for his latest “miracle,” over the Bears, let’s just put it this way, as a long-time Chicago fan (of many sports) – our various franchises have the unrivaled ability to turn a season of promise into a season of trashed dreams – it’s a Chicago thing! I offer Exhibit A, The Chicago Cubs – nearly 110 years of proof in the separation of church and sport.

    If faith in the Almighty had anything to do with success in sports, then all those prayers from Irish, Roman, and Polish Catholic priests, nuns, and parishioners in the Windy City, would have surly amounted to something more than the pitiful few championships we’ve celebrated over the last century
    Hell, more candles have been sacrificed in Chicago churches in the pious, prayerful begging for a “win” than all the flames in the city’s Great Fire could have ever ignited. Forgive me, but I’m not quite ready to go searching for images of the Virgin Mary in my Denver omelet.

    Jim Howard

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