Is the Tim Tebow magic over?
Three straight losses coincide with three straight underwhelming performances for the Denver Broncos quarterback, perhaps showing that there is a shred of humanity to a quarterback once raised to deity-like heights in the Mile High City. Sunday afternoon's 7-3 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs still fell the right way for Tebow and his teammates as they backed into the playoffs and won the AFC West, but how can the Broncos expect to win if their quarterback continues to perform so poorly?
Next Sunday's opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers, must be licking their lips at those numbers. There was always the sense on Sunday that he was playing possum and that a fourth quarter comeback was on the way. It didn't happen.
He completed six of 22 passes for 60 yards with an interception but most discouraging, the usually tough to tackle Tebow had six rushes for just 16 yards and for the fifth straight game, he fumbled and lost the ball. Those are numbers that fail to impress, especially since the Broncos is built around Tebow's ability to run the ball out of the option. It was arguably the worst outing of a pro career that has never seen him statistically soar.
"Well, obviously when you lose it's just not good enough, and for me it wasn't good enough, and I just have to get better and learn from my great coaches and just come out next week and try to be a better quarterback, a better leader and be a better player," Tebow said.
"As a quarterback you've just got to find a way to put your team in the end zone. We had a nice drive going, and I fumbled—and that was very disappointing—just trying to fight for extra yards. And we had other opportunities we just couldn't take advantage of. We've just got to find a way."
Well, that's trite, but "a way" is now looking more and more difficult.
Over the past three games, Tebow has never completed more than 50 percent of his passes in any of the three losses. Combined during this stretch, he has completed a scant 30 of his 73 passes thrown with just a single touchdown and four interceptions.
And the 16 yards rushing in Sunday's loss represents his lowest rushing total since being named a starter in Week 5. Sure Tebow wins despite his unorthodox style but now that he's losing, his inability to complete generic NFL passes is becoming a serious problem and not just sports talk banter. It will surely give more fuel to the fire for the Tebow-haters out there but the stat line earned a brutal assessment from head coach John Fox.
"Just like the rest of our team, not quite good enough. It wasn't bad. It was a 7-3 game, and I'd say that was pretty much a defensive battle on both sides," Fox said. "I don't know with a 7-3 score there are any offensive coordinators running around really excited."
While Tebow was never a statistical juggernaut — his best passing performance came in Week 13 against a depleted Minnesota Vikings secondary when he threw just 15 passes, completing 10 of them — there is the sense that the luster has worn off. Having won seven of his first eight games as a starter, there was an aura that the Broncos could win behind the unorthodox Tebow.
Much to his credit, there was no excuses from Tebow post-game even as it looks like the rest of the league has caught up or at least figured out how to limit the man, the myth and perhaps maybe now, the gimmick.
"Our receivers did a great job, and our offensive line protected very well," Tebow said. "We just have to - I just have to get them the ball."
Follow Kristian R. Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer
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