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Tebow Surprises Steelers with His Arm: Fan Reaction
I certainly did not expect the Denver Broncos to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Jan. 8 in the NFL playoffs, and I think most everyone outside of the State of Colorado felt similarly. What was even more surprising was how the Broncos did it: on Tim Tebow's arm.
Now before we go all crazy again about Tebow's mystique—and recall that just a few days ago, he was supposedly fighting for his job after three bad games—let's remember that Tebow only completed 10 passes all day against Pittsburgh. But boy, did he make those passes count, including the 80-yard game-winner to Demaryius Thomas on the first play of overtime—a pass that was 10 yards Tebow and 70 yards Thomas.
Tebow threw for 316 yards and two touchdowns against the league's No. 1 pass defense—the most yardage that the Steelers had allowed all season, according to the talking heads on CBS during the broadcast. He also rushed 10 times for 50 yards and a third score.
Most impressively—especially given Tebow's Achilles heel over the past few games—is that he committed no turnovers in the game. Of course, some of that may be explained by the fact that the Steelers defense ranked last in the NFL in collecting turnovers, but still, for Tebow to make such an about-face from his last few performances, you have to give him some credit for the work he put in during the week leading up to the game.
Tebow also was not sacked in the game, and his ability to escape pressure all day contributed to the Broncos keeping drives alive. Part of his poor completion percentage on the day (47.6 percent) can be attributed to Tebow escaping defenders long enough to throw the ball away.
I did not see anything magical in Tebow's performance against Pittsburgh. He made some mistakes, he threw some bad passes, he threw when he should have run and vice-versa. Hitting Thomas for the 80-yarder on the first play of overtime was less Biblical than it was taking advantage of a defender who was out of position, hitting Thomas on a short slant pattern, Thomas throwing a well-timed and effective stiff-arm before turning on the jets, and the Steelers having no safety help when they needed it.
But what Tebow does for Denver is present opponents with a challenge to defend an offense that they don't normally see in the NFL. In a copycat league like the NFL, when the Broncos roll out a college-style offense, opponents are confused. And that's exactly what Pittsburgh looked for most of the day: confused. They played defenders out of position because they had to figure out a way to contain Tebow's scrambling.
The Broncos also changed their plays up just a hair to confuse the defense. On one play in the second quarter, Broncos tight end Daniel Fells started running a route that Steelers defensive back Troy Polamalu had obviously seen before on film. As Fells made his cut toward the middle of the field, Polamalu was right there. But when Fells made a second cut that Polamalu clearly wasn't expecting and went into a fly pattern, Fells was all alone in the middle of the field, where Tebow hit him for a 40-yard gain.
The Steelers never looked comfortable in the game, and with the Broncos keeping Pittsburgh on its heels through unusual formations and creative adjustments to plays, along with Tebow playing an error-free game, Denver—not Pittsburgh—is now headed east to face the New England Patriots.
Nothing mystical about that. Just good, well-planned, well-executed football.
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