2011-11-25 / Sports

Denver’s Tebow good when and where it matters the most

BY ARNIE STAPLETON The Associated Press

Tim Tebow’s passes aren’t pretty, his stats aren’t spectacular, his footwork is flawed and his mechanics are a mess.

Terrible in these metrics, he’s terrific in the only measure that really counts in the NFL: he’s 4-1 since supplanting Kyle Orton as Denver’s starter.

The surging Broncos (5-5) are back to .500 as they seek to avoid their first consecutive losing seasons since 1971-72, and they’ve already won more games than they did last year when they went 4-12.

Yet, even after Tebow guided the Broncos on a game-winning 95-yard drive in the closing minutes against the New York Jets on Thursday night, his critics howled about how he can’t throw the ball like a standard NFL quarterback and he’ll never succeed long-term if he can’t improve his accuracy.

Only Eli Manning and Aaron Rodgers, however, sport a better fourth-quarter passer rating than Tebow’s 107.0.

Tebow is 28 for 50 for 399 yards in the fourth quarter with five touchdowns, one interception and three comebacks in his five starts.

So, he can do more than just run the option, although he beat the New York Jets with his legs and not his arm Thursday night when he ran 20 yards for the winning TD in the final minute of Denver’s 17- 13 thriller.

“Sometimes he did it to us in college and he’s doing it here,” said Broncos defensive end and Tennessee alum Robert Ayers. “It doesn’t have to be pretty; it doesn’t have to be Aaron Rodgers-like, as long as we get it done, that’s all that matters.”

“Everybody talks about what he can’t do,” cornerback Andre’ Goodman said, “no one talks about what he’s doing, which is winning games.”

While winning is the bottom line in this league, Tebow, coach John Fox and football chief John Elway all agree he has to get better.

Denver was just 1 for 11 on third downs before Tebow converted twice on the game-winning drive when the Broncos spread the Jets out with an empty backfield and multiple wide receiver sets. The drive followed a string of eight straight punts, seven of them three and outs.

Tebow has a 44.8 completion percentage. The silver lining is that the opponents aren’t catching his passes, either. He has just one interception to go with his seven TD throws.

Look closely, though, Fox suggested, and you’ll see improvement.

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