At one point in Sunday afternoon's game between the San Diego Chargers and the Denver Broncos, the Chargers were up, 10-0, and Tim Tebow had completed one pass in five attempts for 8 yards.
That, by the way, was with four minutes left in the first half, when Tebow completed his first pass. So it only stood to reason that, down by that degree and in a situation where they'd generally had to pass like crazy to get back in the same stratosphere as San Diego's high-powered offense, Tebow would run the ball at a historic pace, Philip Rivers would have one of the worst games of his up-and-down season, and the Broncos would somehow pull out another victory?
Well, whether it makes sense or not, that's precisely what happened. Tebow ran the ball 22 times for 67 yards — according to STATS, LLC, the most rushing attempts by a quarterback since at least 1950 — the Chargers' offense shut down, the Broncos kept kicking field goals after Tebow's 18-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker with less than a minute in the first half, and Matt Prater kicked the winning field goal with just 33 seconds left in overtime.
Surely, a tie would not extend the ridiculous narrative. In the end, Tebow actually had a decent passing day — 9 of 18 for 143 yards and that touchdown — while Rivers was harassed all day by Denver's bookend pass rushers, Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil. Sacked three times and constantly under pressure, Rivers completed just 19 of 36 passes of his own, and managed a 77.1 passer rating to Tebow's 95.4.
Once again, Tebow did just enough to win, and then some.
"This is a special team when you have a bunch of guys that when things aren't going good we get closer instead of pulling apart," Tebow said. "The No. 1 reason we are like that is because we believe in each other, we believe in the coaching staff."
"We played well enough to win, and we'll take that every week — including next week," head coach John Fox said after the game. "Part of coaching is putting your players in the best positions to take advantage of their abilities, and Timmy's got an outstanding ability. He proved it at a very high level in college, in the SEC at the University of Florida. It's something that he's comfortable with, and our team has adapted to it. Right now, it's working in the run portion of our offense. We've still got some growth to do in the passing portion, and we work on that every day. It's baby steps, but we'll get there."
The Broncos, who now stand at 6-5 after a 1-4 start, face off against the Minnesota Vikings next Sunday. It gives the Broncos a full week to come up with still more improbable wrinkles, and the rest us still more time to wonder anew:
"Who is this guy, and what is he doing to our precious, normal game of football?"
- Tim Tebow
- Philip Rivers
- Denver Broncos