Tebow rallies Broncos past Dolphins in OTBy STEVEN WINE, AP Sports Writer Monday, Oct 24, 2011
MIAMI (AP)—Tim Tebow(notes) lingered on the field after the game, sharing congratulatory hugs with teammates and handshakes with opponents. He was the last player to head for the locker room, and when he finally departed through the tunnel at a trot, a small cluster of remaining fans gave him one more ovation for a job well done.
Making his first start of the season, Tebow showed his characteristic flair for the dramatic and knack for winning Sunday. He overcame lots of ragged moments by throwing two touchdown passes in the final 2:44 of regulation to help the Denver Broncos beat the winless Miami Dolphins in overtime, 18-15.
The Broncos appeared beaten when they trailed 15-0 with 5:23 left and took over at their 20. At that point Tebow was 4 for 14 for 40 yards, and Denver was 0 for 10 on third-down conversions.
“It’s my fault that we were in that position in the first place,” Tebow said. “I just have to play better in the first three quarters so we don’t have to make that comeback.”
In the frantic final minutes of the fourth quarter, Tebow led TD drives of 80 and 56 yards sandwiched around a successful onside kick. He scored a 2-point conversion standing up with 17 seconds left to tie the game.
The Broncos (2-4) became the first to rally from a deficit of at least 15 points in the final three minutes since at least 1983, according to STATS LLC. Miami (0-6) extended the NFL’s longest losing streak to nine games, leaving the status of embattled coach Tony Sparano even more tenuous.
“At this point in time, with where we are, you find out about the real mettle of the guys in that locker room,” Sparano said.
The Dolphins lost for the 12th time in their past 13 home games. Some Miami fans have started rooting against their team, hoping for a shot at Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck in next year’s draft.
While the Broncos were two time zones from home, lots of fans wore Tebow jerseys, and the popular quarterback drew a big roar trotting onto the field for his first series. Tebow won a 2005 high school state championship and the 2008 national title with the Florida Gators in the same stadium.
“This field has a lot of good memories,” he said.
Crowd loyalties were divided even at halftime, when the Dolphins paid tribute to the 2008 Gators, who drew a mix of cheers and jeers.
Tebow started for the benched Kyle Orton(notes), and through much of the game the Broncos sputtered. Tebow was sacked seven times as he struggled to identify blitzes, and several throws landed nowhere near a receiver.
“He’s a polarizing figure,” Taylor said.
“When you get knocked down, you’ve got to keep getting back up,” Tebow said.
That’s what he did. With the Broncos on the verge of being shut out for the first time since 1992, he led an eight-play touchdown drive that got them back in the game.
“They made the play. I didn’t,” Moore said.
After the recovery, Tebow drove Denver to the 3. Then on second down he fooled the Dolphins by rolling left and throwing back to the right to Daniel Fells(notes), who dived across the goal line for a 3-yard score.
Denver still needed a 2-point conversion to stay alive, and Tebow kept up the middle to score.
“I’m so proud of the guys,” he said, “and I’m very blessed that they believed in me for more than 60 minutes.”
Notes: Broncos RB Willis McGahee(notes) left the game in the third quarter with a broken hand. It was wrapped afterward, but he said he would be fine. Denver DE Robert Ayers(notes) sprained his knee, and DE Elvis Dumervil(notes) sprained his ankle. … LeBron James tweeted: “Congrats to (at)TimTebow for that comeback win today. Impressive! He’s just a winner.”