Last night, in a dispiriting 26-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Brady Quinn warmed up for games that count by playing as he did during the regular season for the Cleveland Browns -- like one of the worst QBs in the league. And Tim Tebow? Not great, but not nearly as bad, giving him at least a chance to slide one butt-cheek up the bench.
Not that many other Broncos swaddled themselves in glory. After the top defensive players delivered a strong performance against Seattle last week, their backups looked so astonishingly inept that coach John Fox, plus John Elway and the rest of the Denver braintrust, will likely be tempted to cut the lot. Unfortunately, however, Fox and company must keep some of them around, and what appeared to be a season-ending injury to Syd'Quan Thompson makes it likely one survivor will be none other than cornerback Perrish Cox, suspected of impregnating his own rape victim. His mere presence on the field this preseason set many a tooth on edge. Count on them to stay there for a while longer.
Matt Prater, another Bronco with legal trouble (he was involved in an alleged hit-and-run DUI with a strip-club employee), was on hand, too, and he proved that he's got enough leg to kick a sixty-yard field goal when he's not at altitude. Not that he made it; his boot went wide left. And Jason Hunter, who was on the other side of a police incident earlier this year (his girlfriend is said to have thrown a knife at him during an argument), made the most of his time during the second half. In the end, though, no one on the D deserved any game balls -- not after making a shaky Cardinals team look like an offensive juggernaut.
Still, the booby prize goes to Quinn, who looked completely clueless. An interception he tossed toward the end of the first half is exhibit A: Under no pressure of note, he tossed the ball into such a knot of Cards that any of them could have come away with the pick. To put it mildly, rumors of Quinn's maturation appear to have been hugely exaggerated.
Tebow, for his part, seemed more comfortable running the ball than throwing it during his first few series under center -- no big shock there. But as the game wound down, he credibly led the team on a 94-yard drive, with the big strike being a 43-yard lollipop to Eron Riley to prevent a shutout.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
Yes, this effort took place during garbage time -- but the entire contest felt that way, so Tebow deserves at least a modest attaboy. Of course, the potential promotion that could result won't matter unless starter Kyle Orton is injured, at which point the Broncos would be well and truly screwed. Are you ready for some football?
Look below to see a highlight reel focused on the Cardinals -- appropriate, since they were the only team that really had any.
More from our Sports archive: "Tim Tebow infographic: What do Tebow lovers see that his critics don't?"