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Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow prays near the endzone prior to their NFL football game against the Chicago Bears in Denver December 11, 2011. (RICK WILKING/REUTERS)
Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow prays near the endzone prior to their NFL football game against the Chicago Bears in Denver December 11, 2011. (RICK WILKING/REUTERS)

Tebow set to play David to Brady's Goliath Add to ...

The Broncos faithful have embraced Tebow, with many calling on Fox in September to install him as the starter, although many others were still screaming f-bombs at him as recently as mid-November, when he put in a weak performance (104 yards passing) against the New York Jets. That was the Nov. 17 game that Tebow clinched with less than a minute to go, a 20-yard TD run to cap a 95-yard drive, the first of four consecutive come-from-behind wins, a feat accomplished by only one other quarterback, some dude named Peyton Manning.

The run, part of Tebow’s 7-1 record as a starter, is what Sports Illustrated called- why avoid hyperbole? - “the craziest, most unlikely eight-week run in NFL history.”

It has, in the words of Time Magazine, made Tebow a “national phenomenon,” one so big even flailing presidential candidates (hello Rick Perry!) desperately invoke his name in debates.

It even might - let’s check back in a couple years - be the second coming.

“Football is not only a religion in Colorado, it is a monotheistic faith,” wrote Denver native Michael Humphrey on the New Yorker website in April, 2010, after the Bronos picked Tebow in the first round.

“The One - John Elway - retired in 1999, and all five quarterbacks since have failed spectacularly.”

Until, so far, Timmy (the name his mother addresses her youngest son by).

Bettors are certain of a Pats win. The line started at less than a touchdown and by Sunday morning had shot to eight points as money piled on New England.. The game has attracted, reports say, five times more action than any other NFL match this season.

Tebow certainly faces his toughest test yet in the NFL. His seven wins came against teams who are 39-52. New England is 5-2 on the road, and the Pats are on a run of five straight wins. Brady would be a lock for his second consecutive (and third total) most valuable player award, if it that fellow Aaron Rodgers wasn’t lighting up a historic season in Packers green and yellow.

Denver fans might take vague solace, and hope, in the Broncs record against Brady, who has lost five times in six tries against Denver. The six games include the 2005 season’s playoffs, the last time the Broncos were in the playoffs, when Denver trounced New England, ending the Pats’ 10-game playoff winning streak and snatching away Brady’s shot at a record third straight Super Bowl win.

Much has been made about how terrible a passer Tebow is, how there’s no way he’ll ever make it long-term in the NFL, a passing league not welcoming to running quarterbacks with weak arms, how his penchant for running will eventually see him beheaded by some monster linebacker (even though he seemed to easily absorb seven sacks in his only loss, to the Detroit Lions).

Yet far fewer people note several other pertinent facts. Tebow has thrown only two interceptions, compared with 11 touchdowns. And Tebow doesn’t exactly have Pro Bowl receivers. In fact, while he still tosses some weird wobbles, he’s shown improvement as his unlikely run extends week by week. His quarterback rating of 83.9 as a sophomore NFLer resembles that of another sophomore quarterback, some chap named Brady, who a decade ago took the reins when Drew Bledsoe got hurt, put up a quarterback rating of 86.5, and went 11-3 the rest of the regular season as a starter, en route to his first Super Bowl victory (beating two-touchdown favourites, the St. Louis Rams by three, after which many people still questioned whether Brady was actually any good).

“There are so many things that Tim can do,” Elway told Denver’s news-sports radio 850 AM on Thursday. Elway talked about how he plans to work closely with Tebow after this season - something he couldn’t do before this season because of the lockout.

“He’s got the work ethic, he’s got the want to be able to work on all of the techniques, his feet, his drops, the timing, and throwing the football” - Elway stopped with significant emphasis on his final words - “with rhythm.”

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