Resurrected defense puts Tebow in position to succeed

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 30, 2011 - 6:31 AM

Sure, Tim Tebow is 5-1 as a starter. But most of the credit should go to the Broncos defense, not the quarterback.

hide

Linebacker Von Miller is a big reason Denver has been winning.

Photo: Barry Gutierrez, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The problem with Tebowing is everybody has their heads down and their eyes closed.

Otherwise, more people would see that Tebowmania doesn't even remotely exist without a Broncos defense that has played as well as any unit in the league the past month.

During a four-game winning streak that's turned the Broncos from 2-5 to playoff contender to leading NFL story line, quarterback Tim Tebow has never found himself down by more than two scores. When the quarterback position is played with the admirable but still primitive scrappiness of what's essentially a very fast fullback, sound team defense trumps one man's Divine Intervention.

That's not to say there isn't something magical about Tebow when the game is on the line late in the fourth quarter or overtime. But mentioning his comeback victories and his 5-1 record as a starter should include additional information such as elite defenders Elvis Dumervil and Champ Bailey returning from injuries to help the team U-turn from its 1-4 start.

"Their defense is keeping them in games," Vikings defensive end Brian Robison said. "And that's giving them chances to win at the end."

When Tebow took over for Kyle Orton, the Broncos ranked 31st in scoring defense (28.0). During their current four-game winning streak, they've allowed an average of 15 points per game. In their past three games, the Broncos have allowed 36 total points, second best in the league behind the 34 points that Houston has allowed.

"I think possibly the defense gets lost a little bit," Vikings running back Toby Gerhart said. "Everybody talks about Tebow and how he's continuing to win as a starter. But their defense is doing great things."

With their top pass-rushing lineman (Dumervil) and their top cover cornerback (Bailey) hobbled and/or out, the Broncos gave up at least 300 yards passing to three of the first four quarterbacks they faced this season. Since then, only one quarterback has thrown for 300 yards against them. And that was the Raiders' Carson Palmer, who also was intercepted three times in a 38-24 Denver victory at Oakland.

That victory started a four-week stretch in which the Broncos swept all three AFC West foes on the road. That includes a 17-10 victory at Kansas City and Sunday's 16-13 overtime win at San Diego.

The defense under first-year coach John Fox is displaying a lot of speed and confidence as it hits its stride heading into a December schedule that starts with Sunday's game against the Vikings (2-9) at Mall of America Field.

"They're just playing without thinking," Fox told reporters when asked about his defense. "The guys are reacting, just playing ball."

It's hard to believe that the Broncos and Vikings both posted the same 1-4 record on the afternoon of Oct. 9. The Broncos changed quarterbacks the following week. The Vikings waited another week.

Since the Broncos changed quarterbacks, they've allowed 120 points in six games (20.0). Since the Vikings changed quarterbacks, they've allowed 150 points in five games (30.0).

"Yeah, you have to credit their entire team for what they are doing," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "I think five out of the last six they have won. That's a team deal when that happens, but you're right, it gets lost in the shuffle when Tim is playing as well as he is playing. Those wins have come under his leadership so he deserves a lot of the credit, but it sounds like the rest of their team has really picked it up as well."

One defender playing some possibly historic ball during Tebowmania is linebacker Von Miller, the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft.

"Absolutely," Robison said. "Von Miller is having a great year over there. He's a heck of a pass rusher and doing a lot of things for them as far as schemes that they do with him and blitzing him off the edge and things like that."

Miller has 4 1/2 sacks during the Broncos' four-game winning streak. With 10 1/2 sacks on the season, he has a chance to break the league's rookie sack record of 14 1/2 set by Tennessee's Jevon Kearse in 1999.

If it happens, perhaps Tebow Time could share just a smidge of the adulation with Miller Time.

Mark Craig • mcraig@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who will win the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Minnesota 94 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Houston 93 FINAL
Boston 87
Portland 99 FINAL
Atlanta 105
Sacramento 90 FINAL
Cleveland 101
Toronto 127 FINAL
Brooklyn 122
Dallas 93 FINAL
Miami 72
LA Clippers 103 FINAL
New Orleans 108
Golden State 100 FINAL
Utah 110
Chicago 93 FINAL
Phoenix 99
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 1
St. Louis 3 FINAL(SO)
Carolina 2
Nashville 0 FINAL
Colorado 3
Buffalo 2 FINAL
Vancouver 5
Chicago 4 FINAL
Anaheim 1
Harvard 75 FINAL
Princeton 72
Quinnipiac 57 FINAL
Canisius 63
Brown 49 FINAL
Cornell 57
Siena 79 FINAL
Manhattan 87
Marist 65 FINAL
Niagara 61
Dartmouth 51 FINAL
Penn 58
Oregon 68 FINAL
Arizona State 67
Yale 63 FINAL
Columbia 59
Monmouth 60 FINAL
Fairfield 59
IUPUI 59 FINAL
Western Ill 63
Oregon State 34 FINAL
Arizona 57
Kent State 55 FINAL
Buffalo 80
Canisius 75 FINAL
Monmouth 58
Butler 67 FINAL
Providence 59
Cornell 65 FINAL
Brown 52
Columbia 47 FINAL
Yale 55
Coll of Charleston 47 FINAL
Drexel 64
Penn 55 FINAL
Dartmouth 39
Elon 60 FINAL
James Madison 89
(19) Princeton 96 FINAL
Harvard 46
(9) Florida State 82 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Siena 62
Richmond 54 FINAL
Rhode Island 50
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Southern Ill 64
Georgetown 52 FINAL
DePaul 93
Villanova 75 FINAL
Marquette 59
Wichita State 70 FINAL
Northern Iowa 51
Xavier 65 FINAL
Creighton 74
Bradley 58 FINAL
Illinois State 55
Missouri State 89 FINAL
Drake 94
Arizona 48 FINAL
Utah 62
(11) Arizona State 68 FINAL
Colorado 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters
Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9
 
Close