While everyone is “oohing and ahhing” at the great performance by Tim Tebow this past Sunday in Denver, they have lost focus on the reality of this week’s past performance. It was unimpressive to say the least. A similar type of performance will get them no where next weekend against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Let’s take a look at why Tebow’s performance and play was not as amazing as people make it out to be and how that will affect them next weekend on the road.
Many people believe that Tim Tebow deserves a lot of credit for actually throwing the ball well, for once, in the Bronco’s improbable and unexpected win last Sunday. However, the reality is that Tebow was facing a seriously diminished and banged up Steeler team that was truly a former shell of the team that boasted a top defense and solid offense during the regular season. He will not get that same luxury this coming Saturday when he faces the number one seeded New England Patriots and their record setting offense led by Tom Brady, last year’s unanimous MVP award winner.
By the time Tebow and the Broncos faced the Steelers at Invesco Field, they met a banged up Ben Roethlisberger who had a fairly serious high ankle sprain that had held him out of one contest near the end of the season and had hobbled him in the two others he played in. This injury seriously interfered with his mobility and his ability to plant and throw down field accurately. In addition, the Steelers were without their all pro center, Maurkice Pouncey who was unable to play due to the same injury sustained by Roethlisberger. Another player, Steelers safety Ryan Clark, was prevented from playing due to a sickle cell condition that caused him to lose his spleen and gall bladder when he played in Denver in 2007. Rashard Mendenhall, their top running back, was lost late in the season to an ACL tear in his knee. To make matters worse for the Steelers, they lost two of their top defensive lineman, Brett Keisel and Casey Hampton, in the opening minutes of the game due to injury.
This flood of injuries allowed Denver to avoid serious pressure and opened up the field. It also allowed them to face an opponent’s offense that was less than explosive.
Still with all of these factors going in Denver’s favor, along with the fact that they were on their home field, they still barely beat the Steelers in an overtime contest with one big play to Demayrius Thomas for a touchdown in the opening drive and possession of the contest. Tebow’s numbers despite the yardage he threw for were still unimpressive. His completion percentage in the contest was still a pedestrian 10/21, which came out to a pathetic 48%. The only reason this was forgotten was because of the victory. The facts are however, that one of those completions came on the only play in overtime. This means that during regulation, Tebow was 9/21, an even worse statistic.
These statistics will not fly against New England next Saturday if the Broncos expect to win. The last time the Patriots played the Broncos, Tebow was similarly unimpressive with only 194 passing yards and 0 touchdowns on 11/22 completions. Again, this was a terribly low 50% completion percentage. If Tebow expects to have any chance this weekend, Tebow will need to complete at least 60% of his passes in order to stay with the prolific offense of the Patriots.
To make matters even worse for the Broncos, they have become the victim of the very same thing that allowed them to take down the Steelers, injuries. Brian Dawkins their top safety has been out for several weeks with a neck injury that may force him to retire at season’s end. Since Dawkins went out with the injury, in week 14, Denver has gone a pathetic 1-3 with losses to New England in week 15, a 6-9 Buffalo team in week 16, and the hapless Kansas City team in week 17. They almost missed the playoffs entirely with an 8-8 mark. However, because of a weak division and the pathetic play of the Oakland Raiders, who have since fired their coach Hugh Jackson for producing an 8-8 mark, and the San Diego Chargers who ended the season with an identical 8-8 mark, they made it due to tie breakers. Their only victory in that 4 game stretch came against the banged up Steeler squad on their home field. This was not very impressive to say the least.
The injury bug has continued to hit the Broncos even harder with the news that their second best receiver from last Sunday’s contest, Eric Decker, will also be prevented from playing next Saturday due to a knee sprain. Additionally, other players on the Broncos have been held out this week when practices began including Safety David Bruton (Achilles), explosive pass rusher Elvis Dumerville, and tight end Daniel Fells.
Tebow and the Broncos will not need a miracle next weekend to beat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, they will need great execution and a performance from Tim Tebow that he has yet to put together in the 2011 campaign. If he does not complete at least 60% of his passes and score several touchdowns, no amount of prayers will be able to save him. Although, if Tebow and the Broncos were able to win, it surely would be a miracle!
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