After Denver’s defeat to San Diego (29-24) on October 9, the Broncos were 1-4 on the season. A bye week followed. Since then, Denver is 7-1. The Tebow phenomenon. In six of those seven wins, the Broncos were behind in the third quarter. To that point in each of those games, Tim Tebow had been next to horrible. He couldn’t throw well, especially out of the pocket, and his early-game running tended to resemble a player of a different sport trying something else for the afternoon.
What happens midway through those second halves? In those six games where Denver were behind, the comebacks for wins were based on the following late scorelines: 18-0, 24-0, 14-3, 9-0, 21-10, and 13-0. As Joe Posnanski writes, Tebow “seems to deeply believe — DEEPLY believe — that he is playing for something bigger than football, something larger than himself. He seems inbued with the conviction of a Crusader.”
I imagine that if Christopher Hitchens were still alive, and were a football fan, he would be pulling for the Patriots in one of today’s late games. As brilliant as Mr. Hitchens was, he may have missed the point of what belief can do for one’s confidence, and how infectious that can be in a team sport such as football, the ultimate team sport. Of course what’s really happening is the fact that the Broncos have faced mediocre teams, and have stayed close enough with their dependable defense to allow Tebow to perform his five-loaves-and-two-fish work.
Sabermatricians would call this a random occurrence. But sitting here on my couch, watching Tebow run the ball into the Patriots endzone on Denver’s first possession (Broncos 6 Pats 0) as if he were a brahma bull on faith-inducing steroids, I wonder. In fact, that seems to be the best way to relate to this phenomenal paragraph in the NFL’s long history — a sense of wonderment.
The Pats just went ahead 7-6. I can’t wait for the fourth quarter.