After Denver Broncos starting quarterback Kyle Orton(notes) struggled through a miserable performance against the San Diego Chargers in which he completed 6 of 13 passes for 34 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception, all the people who have been chanting at the games, flooding talk radio and putting up billboards got their wish, as Tebow came out to start at quarterback for the second half. In the end, Tebow almost brought the Broncos back from a 16-point deficit, and that fact should make the next two weeks fairly interesting ones for the Broncos' coaching staff.
Tebow actually came in for one play at the start of the second quarter, ran 2 yards to the left, and came back out. However, that wasn't good enough for announcers Marv Albert and Rich Gannon, who called poor Orton "Tebow" on each of the next two plays.
In the second half, the Broncos quickly benefitted from the one thing we all know Tebow can do in the NFL — make plays off zone option runs in the red zone. The Chargers were up, 26-10, until Tebow put them closer with a fourth-quarter option touchdown run, and Willis McGahee(notes) got the two-point conversion to make it a 26-18 game. As far as Tebow's passing, early returns haven't been all that positive — he completed just one of his first five passes, and the completion was to Eric Decker(notes) for a grand total of zero yards.
But then, with 3:30 left in the game, Tebow hit Knowshon Moreno(notes) for a 28-yard touchdown on a screen pass. That put the score at 26-24, and Tebow just missed connecting with Brandon Lloyd(notes) for the two-point conversion that would have tied the game. The Chargers kicked a field goal late in the game to make the score 29-24, but Tebow got one more shot and nearly pulled off a miracle.
With 24 seconds left in the game and starting at the Denver 20, he first threw a sideline pass to Lloyd that was called an incomplete catch at first but was reversed on replay. Lloyd made an incredible balancing, diving play to keep himself in bounds.
Then, Tebow found tight Daniel Fells(notes) over middle for 31 yards, which set up one more play from the San Diego 29-yard line if Tebow could get up to the line and stop the clock with a spike before time elapsed.
He did just that with one second left, but the Hail Mary throw in the end zone fell incomplete.
Tebow fell short, and the hype surrounding this player has been fairly ridiculous, but it was clear to see in this game that he did bring a spark to the offense that Orton simply couldn't. His stats were not impressive -- six rushes for 38 yards and 4 of 10 passes for 79 yards -- but he got a touchdown each way.
The Broncos have a bye upcoming, which gives head coach John Fox an extra week to figure out how he wants to handle a quarterback controversy that is no longer a quarterback controversy. It's not so much that Tebow is spectacular as it is that Orton has fallen so far in his play. At this point, Fox has an obligation to his floundering team to see what he can get out of Tebow.
The Broncos next face the Miami Dolphins on Oct. 23, and that was the team that almost worked a deal with the Broncos for Orton's services before the season started.
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