Believe In Miracles Yet? Yes, he did it again

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Dec 11, 2011

By Nate Winkler
Cold, Hard Football Facts Broncos Team Correspondent

The Denver Broncos are in sole possession of first place in the AFC West after defeating the Chicago Bears 13-10 in overtime. The Broncos have won six straight games, three of them in overtime, and have trailed in the second half in all but one. Before we get to the facts, it's time to make one thing clear once and for all: God does indeed care about football, and Tim Tebow is his new favorite son. Make no mistake, the Big Guy must certainly have a full agenda with war and famine and partisan politics; as the non-believers will argue but that just explains why he hasn't been showing up to Broncos games until the waning moments to jumpstart Timmy's miracle machine.

Here are 5 Things We Learned:

1. Watching Tim Tebow vs. Brian Urlacher was like watching Tyson vs. Holyfield minus the ear biting. The Monsters of the Midway came out with a clear mission: to shut down the Broncos' league leading rushing attack and they were successful early, holding the Broncos to 7 rushing yards in the first quarter. Urlacher spied Tebow from his middle linebacker position most of the game, racking up 10 tackles while neutralizing the Broncos "crap" offense for 55 minutes. Julius Peppers helped shut down all varieties of the option and forcedTebow to throw the ball 40 times (52.5% Comp.) which has to be a defensive coordinator's dream at this point in Neo-Tebow's career. Unfortunately when it comes to Tebow,  you should take the red pill instead of taking the blue pill, because as the Dolphins, Raiders, Chiefs, Jets, Chargers, Vikings and now the Bears will tell you; when you die in Tebow's Matrix, you die in real life...and sometimes your playoff dreams die, too. 

2. For almost three quarters Sunday, the most offensive thing in the stadium was Darryl Johnstons' sport coat.  This game had a leather helmet and fedora-adorned crowd feel to it, as it was only the 2nd NFL game of 2011 to go to halftime knotted at 0-0. Julius Peppers blocked a field goal attempt after Denver had driven to the Chicago 11 yard line in the Broncos only possession in Bears territory of the half. The Caleb Hanie's offense of Chicago was equally offensive, snapping the ball one time on Denver's side of the field (a -5 Yd pass) and going 0-5 on 3rd down in the first act. The second half was no better for the Broncos, as they went 3 and out in their first four possessions before Tebow fumbled on the fifth. Until Marion Barber (more on him later) ran into the end zone with 5:19 left in the 3rd, this game appeared to have a great shot to be the first since the 1943 NY Giants vs. Detroit Lions to end in a 0-0 tie. The Broncos were also in danger of being shut out at home for the first time in the franchise's 52 year history until Demaryius Thomas caught Tebow's 10 yard pass just before the two-minute warning.

3. Step aside, Bartman. our new goat has a last name, it's B-A-R-B-E-R...Marion Barber was thrust into the feature back role after Matt Forte went down with a MCL injury last week. Barber was enjoying success against the Broncos' defensive front and ran harder as the game went on, reminding us of his brightest days in Dallas. Barber finished with a game high 108 yards on 27 carries (4.0 YPC), but made a crucial mistake on the Bears first offensive play after the 2:00 warning by running out of bounds and stopping the clock. Instead, Denver got the football back with :56 seconds left, allowing them to use soft spots in the middle of the prevent defense to drive into position for the game tying field goal. Had Barber stayed in bounds, Tebow would have had closer to 10-15 seconds to work with instead of nearly a minute, making this latest resurrection much more improbable.

Making matters worse, Chicago won the overtime coin toss and was driving into Robbie Gould's field goal range on the first possession of the extra period when Barber fumbled away the game, courtesy of a strip by Broncos' defensive captain Wesley Woodyard and recovery by Elvis Dumervil. Two first down completions to Demaryius Thomas later and Matt Prater was lining up to kick his third game winning field goal in as many tries. Barber was last seen being scuttled out of the stadium with a jacket over his head; somehow we think the Cubs will find a way to blame him for their playoff collapse in 2012...

4. Denver's Defense is more legit than those leaked pictures of Lindsey Lohan. Their cumulative stats entering Week 14 were far from impressive (23rd Pass Def, 20th Rush Def.), but they've had the uncanny ability to make the big play at key moments of the game, allowing Tim Tebow's magic to happen. The return of Von Miller to the lineup allowed the Broncos to create many favorable pass rushing matchups which resulted in for more sacks, including one for Miller, stretching his season total to 11.5. Fellow linebacker D.J. Williams led the way with 9 tackles, including 2 sacks, as the Bears were held to just 245 yards of net offense without Jay Cutler and Matt Forte. After going 0-11 last week against the Chiefs, the Bears once again struggled on 3rd down, going just 2-13 against the Broncos.

Denver played with fire a couple of times in the second half by kicking to Devin Hester, and he made them pay with a 26 yard return that set up the Bears touchdown. Denver's coverage team was exceptional outside of this one lapse, thanks mostly to excellent punting once again by Britton Colquitt. Hester was held to just 61 combined return yards on 2 punt returns and a kickoff return from 9 yards deep on the last play of regulation.

5. Tim Tebow has become everyone's guilty pleasure, and even his biggest detractors can't help but sit back and enjoy the show. The interwebs are afire with the Gospel of Tebow, and he's getting converts faster than Focus on the Family. Sometimes it's downright ugly....Timmy boy was just 3-16 for 45 yards entering the 4th quarter (0 completions in 2nd & 3rd), for a passer rating of 13.5. He then proceeded to go 18-24 for 191 in the 4th and O.T., compiling a 111.6 Passer Rating en route to the victory. Despite committing two sinful turnovers for the first time since their last loss (Week 8 against Detroit), Tebow was able to put his team in a position to win the game yet again and the defense delivered along with kicker Matt Prater. There was every reason to doubt he could do it again and the non-believers will continue to dissect his completion percentage, and the long stretches of the game he and the Broncos' offense completely disappear. Know this stat-heads: The Denver Broncos have won 87.5% of the games Tim Tebow has started in 2011. Only Aaron Rodgers, who's currently batting 1.000, can top that.

We've secured ourselves a first class sleeper cabin on the Tebow Express, and the whistle is blowing for any team on the track between Denver and Indianapolis. Prepare to be Tebowed.

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