After seeing his Chicago Bears lose in overtime to the Denver Broncos and become the latest in an ever-expanding line of points in a line in Tim Tebow's winning narrative, linebacker Brian Urlacher made with the backhanded compliments when asked about how it was that Tebow helped to beat them with key plays late in the game.
"He's a good running back," Urlacher said. "He does a good job for them. They have a good offense with him back there. They do some different plays. I thought we did a good job overall."
Sour grapes? Perhaps. In truth, Tebow threw 40 passes against the Bears, and while his performance won't make anyone forget Aaron Rodgers, he is improving enough as a quarterback to at least earn some positional respect from vanquished opponents.
Tebow was unwilling to take the bait. When asked after the game about Urlacher's classification of him, the quarterback made it simple. "Coming from a really good player, that means a lot."
However, Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young was not so forgiving. Asked about Urlacher's slam, the current ESPN analyst had a few more things to say.
"I thought it was so cheap of Brian Urlacher to [talk about] how he lost to a running back," Young said. "To me … he did it to you. He Tebowed you. Just take it like a man and walk away. You lost your shot."
Young then talked about the Broncos-Patriots matchup this upcoming Sunday that will be televised in an estimated 5,000 percent of American homes.
"Next up, Patriots — and I can tell you, the NFL royalty now coming into this fray — Bill Belichick and Tom Brady — I'm sure they're saying to themselves, 'No way are we going to be part of this story. No way.'"
Well, we shall see. The Patriots currently rank 26th in Football Outsiders' opponent-adjusted pass defense metrics, and that would seem to be a decent match for Tebow's 27th-ranked per-play metric among qualifying quarterbacks. That said … well, we know that stuff tends to happen to Mr. Tebow that we find difficult to explain.
Never known for providing bulletin board material, Brady was very complimentary of Tebow and his team this week.
"Everyone says he struggles throwing the ball," Brady said in his weekly appearance on Boston radio station WEEI. "What I saw [on Sunday], he had no problems throwing the ball. He threw the ball extremely well when I was watching.
"It was an exciting game. They obviously have a very good team. They play for 60 minutes. They've obviously closed a lot of games and finished very well. We have a huge test. We'll all be excited, and hopefully have a good week of preparation and be ready to go on Sunday."
It should be an interesting matchup. Tebow has not yet been in a situation where he's been asked to play constant catch-up with an offense as explosive as New England's, so this could be a new challenge for him. If he can keep pace with Brady, and the Broncos can take advantage of New England's leaky defense, Tebowmania will hit an entirely new level … one that even Brian Urlacher might have to recognize.