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SAM FARMER / ON THE NFL

Tim Tebow pulls off his weekly miracle

It's almost becoming old hat as Tebow, 7-1 as Broncos' starting QB, engineers another comeback victory, 13-10 over Bears —his third overtime win, and fourth straight when trailing at two-minute warning.

December 11, 2011|Sam Farmer
  • Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow escapes the pressure by the Chicago Bears during Sunday's game in Denver.
Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow escapes the pressure by the Chicago Bears… (John Leyba / Associated…)

Week by week, the football world is learning something about the new quarterback of the Denver Broncos.

Tebow ends with a W.

The magic happened again Sunday in breathtaking fashion as Tim Tebow guided his team to another overtime victory — Denver's third in Tebow's eight starts — 13-10 over Chicago at Invesco Field.

When is the stunning no longer surprising?

When is the unbelievable almost expected?

It's happening just about every week for the Broncos, who are 7-1 since promoting Tebow to the starting job in mid-October, have won six in a row, and trailed at the two-minute warning in each of their last four wins — against the Jets, Chargers, Vikings and Bears.

On a day of eyebrow-raising outcomes — Arizona upsetting San Francisco, Houston finally securing its first playoff berth, and the Raiders getting rolled in Green Bay — Denver typically came to life late in the game.

Through the first three quarters Sunday, Tebow completed three of 16 passes. In the fourth quarter and overtime, he was 18 for 24.

"It looked pretty bleak there for a while," Tebow said.

"We kept believing. I feel like I'm saying similar things every week, but we're just believing and fighting to the very end."

Tebow has provided the NFL's most entertaining and dramatic theater, and that includes the Packers' spectacular run at perfection. Still, he seems to be the focus of the sports world's most rigorous job interview, as there's no definitive word whether the Broncos' brass plans to build the franchise around him for the long haul.

History will chalk this up as another example of "Tebow Time," but this game also hinged on two huge kicks by Denver's Matt Prater, and two massive mistakes by Chicago's Marion Barber.

Prater forced overtime with a 59-yard field goal, and won the game with a 51-yarder.

The Bears would have been able to burn almost all of the clock at the end of regulation had Barber not run out of bounds. And it was his lost fumble in overtime that set up the winning field goal.

"This is an instant classic," Broncos receiver Eric Decker said. "It classifies as that. It's a game you don't see often at all. Probably again . . . we're finding ways. I can't really explain how we're doing it, we're just doing it."

Denver stands to become the seventh team to make the playoffs after starting 1-4. With three weeks to go, the Broncos pulled a game ahead of Oakland in the AFC West, thanks to the Raiders' non-competitive showing in a 46-16 loss at Lambeau Field.

The Broncos finish against New England, at Buffalo, and versus Kansas City. The Raiders play Detroit, at Kansas City, and San Diego. And the Chargers, who kept their flickering playoff hopes alive Sunday with a 37-10 win over the Bills, close with Baltimore at home, then road games at Detroit and Oakland.

Green Eggs and Gronk

His nickname, "Gronk," sounds like a Dr. Seuss character, but New England's Rob Gronkowski has made his way into another type of book. He now has 15 receiving touchdowns, the most ever by a tight end in a single season. He reached that milestone at Washington on Sunday with two touchdowns, reeling in six catches for 160 yards.

His 14th touchdown moved him ahead of San Diego's Antonio Gates (2004) and San Francisco's Vernon Davis (2009), giving him the league record.

"What record?" Gronkowski deadpanned when asked about the mark. "It's cool and everything, I got the ball back. . . . It's cool to get a record and everything, but that really don't matter."

In his two NFL seasons, Gronkowski has 25 receiving touchdowns in 29 games. Only four other players in NFL history have accomplished that: Bill Groman (24 games), Lance Alworth (27), Bob Hayes (27) and Randy Moss (29).

The string keeps playing out

The standings say they're 13-0, but the Green Bay Packers have actually won their last 19 games. That's the second-longest winning streak in NFL history to New England's 21-game string in 2003-04. By beating Oakland, the Packers clinched a first-round bye, and their 46 points gave them a franchise-high 466 for the season.

Standing between them and 16-0 is a game at Kansas City, then home games against Chicago and Detroit.

Sunday wasn't all good for the Packers, though. Star receiver Greg Jennings left the game in the third quarter because of an apparent injury to his left knee.

"Well, it didn't look very good," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "So we'll see what the MRI says tomorrow. And hopefully, we've got a bye wrapped up, so he really has close to five weeks before our [first playoff] game."

Running on empty

The crowds are dwindling in Cincinnati, and so are the playoff hopes of the Bengals. The announced attendance of 41,202 for Sunday's game against Houston was the second-smallest crowd in Paul Brown Stadium history. The Bengals, once in the thick of the AFC North race, have lost three of four.

The Texans, meanwhile, secured their first ticket to the postseason by virtue of their 20-19 win, and Tennessee's loss to New Orleans.

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