No telling how many heathens among Broncos Nation have been converted by Tim Tebow's stint as the team's starting QB, but they probably number in the thousands by now. After all, the way Denver's been winning -- including yesterday's 35-32 victory over the Vikings -- is nearly as good as a burning bush when it comes to proof there's a higher power. Below: Our top ten examples of pigskin miracles surrounding the game and the Broncos.
10. Adrian Peterson was on the shelf. The Vikings are a different team when Peterson is healthy. He's arguably the most dominant running back in the pro sport; his mere presence takes the focus off Christian Ponder in ways that only help the rookie signal-caller. But he was on the sidelines, and while his replacement, Toby Gerhart, put up some solid numbers, he didn't present the sort of breakaway threat that's omnipresent when Peterson's in the backfield.
9. Christian Ponder Brain Fart No. 1. Ponder is a promising young talent, and he had his best game as a pro against the Broncos' D, which was far more erratic without future NFL defensive rookie of the year Von Miller, but still had more than a few moments. There were, however, a couple of exceptions when it came to Ponder's prowess. First up, an ill-advised first-quarter toss to none other than Mario Haggan, who was in the lineup because of Miller's broken thumb. The pick six, following a safety on the Broncos' first play from scrimmage, was huge in light of the squad's offense in the first half, which was practically nonexistent.
8. The Percy Harvin cure. Speed-burner Harvin missed Friday practice because of a mysterious illness. But the only thing sick on Sunday was his play, which resulted in eight catches for 152 yards and two touchdowns. So why include him in this particular list? Because, as every reader of the Bible understands, each protagonist needs an antagonist -- someone whose powers make ultimate success that much sweeter. Not that Harvin should be equated with Satan -- but there's no denying he was devilishly good against Denver.
7. Willis McGahee keeps getting better. Remember: McGahee's a member of the Broncos because the Baltimore Ravens thought he was done -- or at least that his career was winding down at the same time Ray Rice's was revving up. But somehow, a ball carrier who supposedly had little tread left on the tires has turned into a reliable, powerful force. He racked up 111 yards on twenty carries yesterday, repeatedly helping Denver to maintain possession at key times. Page down for more miracles.
6. Who forgot to cover Demaryius Thomas? On several occasions, Thomas, a receiver the Broncos faithful has been waiting to have a breakout game, was left alone deep down the field, in circumstances where even Tebow's iffy accuracy wasn't a factor. The repeated blown coverages were so jaw-slackening that it seemed as if members of the Vikings secondary had been momentarily struck blind by a God wreaking vengeance -- or bestowing benevolence, if you're coming from a Broncos' lovers perspective.
5. Christian Ponder Brain Fart No. 2. The score was tied at 32, and Ponder had the ball, with an opportunity to make all of Minnesota forget Donovan McNabb, who'd been released earlier in the week. Instead, he threw the ball directly to Broncos defender Andre Goodman, whose interception led directly to Matt Prater's winning field goal as time expired. It was enough to make you wonder if the Spirit in the Sky was resentful of Ponder's parents being so presumptuous as to name him Christian. Ponder that one, why don't you?
4. The Raiders get their comeuppance. As the Broncos were triumphing, the Oakland Raiders, who seemed to be rounding into form now that new acquisition Carson Palmer's shaken off some of his rust, completely crumbled against the Miami Dolphins -- the first team to fall under Tim Tebow's magical spell this season. As a result of the Raiders' loss, Oakland and Denver have identical 7-5 records -- but Denver owns the tie-breakers. Yep, this is what first place in the AFC West feels like. Page down for more miracles.
3. Kyle Orton and bad karma. Meanwhile, in Kansas City, KO, the Broncos starter at the beginning of the season, reportedly dislocated his finger in the Chiefs' victory over the Chicago Bears. On his first play.
2. Speaking of the Bears... Next weekend, the Broncos play Chicago at home -- and their opponents will be without both quarterback (and onetime Denverite) Jay Cutler and incredible running back Matt Forte, who went down with a knee injury yesterday. As for the Raiders, they'll play -- tee hee -- the unbeaten Green Bay Packers.
The Chosen One.
1. Tim Tebow, miracle magnet. Would all of this be happening without Tebow? NFL commentators like ESPN's Cris Carter, who before the game yesterday said he believed in the Broncos' defense but refused to say the same about the Chosen One, still aren't buying in. By contrast, NBC's Tony Dunge -- a Tebow-style man of faith -- now believes Denver will make the playoffs. Let us pray.
Look below to see three videos -- an NFL Network roundup in which Deon Sanders says the Broncos will be "lunch meat" for the Patriots in a couple of weeks, a series of snippets from NBC coverage featuring the Dunge pronouncement, and Tebow's post-game news conference.
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More from our Sports archive: "Tim Tebow's 10 most motivational Bible verse recommendations & when to use them (PICS)."