After Tim Tebow threw himself to the Lions last weekend, the hatred from Twitter Nation came fast and furious -- and even True Believers could be forgiven a moment of doubt. But once again, The Chosen One answered unlikely prayers, leading the Broncos to a 38-24 victory on the road over the Raiders. Of course, Tebow wasn't solely, or even largely, responsible for the win -- but the W definitely makes it harder to bench him now.
Like the Miami Miracle that took place in Tebow's first start of the season, circumstances gave the Broncos a boost. Not only was new Oakland QB Carson Palmer still trying to adjust to a new team and offense (not to mention getting off the couch), but super-back Darren McFadden, who's regularly torched Denver during his NFL career to date, was on the shelf. But the Kyle Orton-helmed Broncos had already lost to the improved Raiders at Mile High this season, and odds remained long against reversing that situation at the Black Hole, Oakland's horror show of a stadium.
Tebow responded to this challenge with another spotty passing performance: 10 of 21, fortunately augmented by two touchdown passes. But despite it being obvious to anyone who can tell football from chess that Tebow would be running plenty, the Raiders still failed to stop him on far too many occasions. Of course, even his sprints could be silly: Witness a second-half scamper, following a brilliant ball fake, during which he hook-slid to a stop to avoid taking yet another crack, then popped up to do a second slide when he wasn't touched initially. But he still managed to eclipse the century mark on the ground -- something he also accomplished through the air, although not by much. If he can maintain this type of balance over the long haul (which he probably can't), he could become an effective force, no matter how unconventional his game is by pro standards.
However, the true stars of the game were Willis McGahee, who made up for his absence against the Lions with 163 yards and a pair of scores, and the Broncos defense, which effectively shut down Palmer and his crew during the final quarter, when it mattered most. (Nice to see a legitimate pass rush at times; Elvis Dumervil racked up 1.5 sacks, with rookie sensation Von Miller collecting the other half.) And don't forget Eddie Royal, who would be one of the greatest punt returners ever if he could play against the Raiders every week.
Nonetheless, Tebow will get a disproportionate amount of credit for the effort, handcuffing coach John Fox, who's clearly been looking for an excuse to put Timmy back on the pine. Indeed, the spin from the local faithful is that the Broncos are only one game out of first place in the AFC West -- as if a division championship is a reasonable possibility. (Don't bet your first born on it.)
Bottom line: Barring injury or something like three consecutive Detroit-like performances, Tebow will be the Broncos' starting quarterback the rest of the season -- for better or worse.
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Look below to see a highlights package from yesterday's game.
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More from our Sports archive: "Ten slogans for the pro-Tim Tebow, anti-Kyle Orton billboard."