Prior to Monday night’s game against the San Diego Chargers, Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris had just one career interception. During that game, Harris pulled through big with two interceptions, one of which was run back for a touchdown with 2:05 left in the game to put the Broncos up by 11 points. Just like that history was made. The Broncos became just the third team in NFL history to come back from 24 points down at halftime to win the game, and the only team to win by double digits.
Comebacks and related records are nothing new to the Broncos. Last season, the Broncos became the first team in history to rally from a 15-point deficit with less than three minutes in the game when they beat the Miami Dolphins. In three of the Broncos’ seven wins under Tebow last season, the Broncos never led until there was 0:00 on the clock.
“Tebow Time” as it became known captivated the nation, and not just on a football level. The thing about Tebow Time, however, is that none of it would have happened without the help from the defense, special teams, or Tim Tebow’s offensive buddies. Tebow Time was actually Team Time.
That’s not what the rest of the world perceived. They saw the man first, and then the team. The Broncos decal became an after thought. Tebowing came to the forefront.
What’s striking about this season is the Broncos have had wins, near comebacks, and then that act of perseverance we saw Monday night. People are giving more credit to the team, not the man. The success (and failures) are not just on Peyton Manning like it was on Tim Tebow.
“Last year, the defense would keep us in the games a lot and play really good, and we’d win, and they give mostly the credit to Tebow,” Harris said. “You could see yesterday (Monday), even though Peyton had an excellent game, he couldn’t have done it without the defense making plays or all the other guys making plays for him. It’s definitely a team game.”
Still, when the league’s biggest free agent landed in Denver last March, skeptics readily pointed to the neck area. It wasn’t a slashing of the throat type motion directed at John Elway and the Broncos brass for putting Tebow on the back burner. It was a directed point to the world’s most famous C-5 vertebrae that belonged to Manning. Could he return to football after four neck surgeries and a year off from football?
Insert the odds: Questionable arm strength, new team, new city, and ultimately a new routine.
Suddenly some Broncos fans were weighing the pros and cons of Manning vs. Tebow as the team’s starting quarterback. Were you hearing music from the Twilight Zone too? I know I was.
“I can’t even compare those two guys,” Harris said of Manning and Tebow. “You’re talking about a Hall of Fame quarterback, four-time MVP, a guy that knows that game. I mean Tim’s a good young guy, but he’s only been in the league three years, so he’s a guy that’s still learning, trying to find his way in the league. You can’t compare those two guys at all.”
Six weeks into the Broncos season and six games into Manning’s winding career, Manning has 1,808 passing yards (2nd), 14 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. Only Aaron Rodgers has a better touchdown to interception ratio.
Manning’s quarterback numbers are night and day different from how Tebow ended his 2011 season. Comparing the two is comparing apples to axes. While last year was a fun ride that saw Tebow at the front of the roller coaster, we now have Manning manning the ship. The team is in control rather than throwing their hands up and letting things fall as they may.
A comeback win is not longer Tebow Time. A comeback win is Team Time, just the way football was intended to be played.