Somewhat recently, the Denver Broncos had one of the most exciting seasons in NFL history, full of ups and downs and miracle wins. The team didn’t have the most talent in the NFL. But that team had something that many players don’t, heart and a desire to put up a W instead of personal gain.
By now you may have guessed I am talking about the 2011 Denver Broncos. Everyone knows all about the team. They were led by one Tim Tebow. Who, while he wasn’t the best quarterback, was a baller. His drive, heart and desire were second-to-none, despite all that, he had one major flaw. He wasn’t an NFL QB.
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Yes, he led a comeback in multiple games. But when you look at what the other components of the team did in those games, you have the proof that football is a team sport.
In Tebow’s first game starting in 2011, he managed to lead a 15 point comeback to tie the game. However, the Broncos defense kept the score somewhat reasonable, allowing the Miami Dolphins to score only 15 points. Then later, in overtime, the defense stepped up, forced a fumble and four plays later Broncos kicker Matt Prater nails a field goal giving the Broncos the victory.
Every game looks similar to that. Tebow played his part, but without the defense keeping the score low or Prater being clutch, a lot of those victories would have been losses. When the defense allowed more than 20 points, the Broncos were 2-3 while Tebow was leading the team. One of those wins, against the Minnesota Vikings, saw the offense bailed out by a big time play at a key moment by the defense with an André Goodman interception, shortly followed by a Matt Prater game winning field goal. The other victory came against the Oakland Raiders, who were a big mess from top to bottom at the time.
In the final three games of the season, the Broncos lost all three, 41-23, 40-14, 7-3. That’s right, even when the defense managed to keep the Kansas City Chiefs, led by former Broncos QB Kyle Orton, to 7 points, Tebow could not lead the team to put up more than 3. During the three-game losing streak, Tebow managed to put up only one touchdown through the air, while tossing three interceptions. He actually managed to throw the same amount of touchdowns to the other team, as he did his own team!
Despite those three loses, the Broncos still managed to win their division and make the playoffs. In wild card weekend the Broncos took on the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was an exciting game where the whole team was firing on all cylinders at the start, only to stutter and end up tied at the end of regulation and the rest is in the history books. The Broncos got the ball and on the first play. Tebow takes the snap- throws it, a little low and behind, to Demaryius Thomas, who after a stiff arm took it 80 yards to win the game. The next week, miracle season ended with a 45-10 stomping from the New England Patriots, who weeks before, put up a 41-23 stomping.
One great thing about Tim Tebow was, he instilled a fire into the team that kept them fighting, but without the QB prowess to back up the drive and carry the team. So John Elway went looking for a new QB. Boy did he find one. Peyton Manning. Though the neck injury was worrisome, you never doubt the Duke.
Jan 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos executive vice president of football operations John Elway celebrate after the 2013 AFC championship playoff football game against the New England Patriots at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY SportsOne great thing about Tim Tebow was, he installed a fire into the team that kept them fighting, but without the QB prowess to backup the drive and carry the team. So John Elway went looking for a new QB. Boy did he find one. Peyton Manning. Though the neck injury was worrisome, you never doubt the Duke.
Since then, Peyton Manning has led the Broncos to back-to-back 13-3 records, first seed in the AFC, third straight AFC West division champs and a Super Bowl appearance, though some will argue that the Broncos didn’t really show up.
Tebow led the Broncos to some records, but Manning’s 2013 campaign was filled with nothing but records, not just for himself, but the team as well. NFL and Broncos records fell game after game with Manning under center.
Going from Tebow to Manning is like eating at a fast food joint, to eating at a Michelin star restaurant. Drinking boxed wine, to drinking Cune Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva vintage 2004 (one of the best wines in the world). From liking Star Trek to Star Wars. From being a Raiders fan to a Broncos fan. Peyton Manning is just better quality than Tim Tebow.
The point of all this is, not for us to forget what Tebow did for the Broncos, but to put it in the past and enjoy what the Denver Broncos have right now with Peyton Manning. 2011 was an exciting season, but 2013 was even more so.
When you have greatness there before you, you take the time to sit back and watch it unfold. Because once that greatness is gone, you’ll be pining for it to come back and one day it might but the possibility is there that we, the fans of football and especially the Broncos, will never see such greatness before our eyes again and if we do, it could be years away or not in our lifetime. It took 15 years to return to greatness after John Elway retired. It could be longer after Manning does.
Sit back. Enjoy the ride. Enjoy the greatness.