Earlier in the week, Jets head coach Rex Ryan stood at the podium and defended the play of his quarterback after Mark Sanchez had an unusually rough outing Sunday night against New England. Ryan talked about the key for measuring a quarterback wasn’t always in stats but a quarterback could truly be measured in finding a way to emerge from a game victorious.
“What is his record?” Ryan asked. “I think if you start there, you get a good gauge of a quarterback.”
The Jets’ head coach clearly was thinking of Sanchez’s 24-16 all-time mark in the regular season and 4-2 record in the playoffs when making the statement, but after Thursday night’s comeback win by Denver, the statement rings true for Tim Tebow. Tebow once again did what Tebow does, orchestrating a win when the odds are stacked against him. This time it was a 95-yard drive when down 13-10, largely called out of an empty backfield, to get the winning touchdown against one of the most feared defenses in the league.
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All week, the Jets talked about not fearing Tebow, about needing to go out there and limit the second-year quarterback’s ability to make plays. He was mocked by Darrelle Revis as a bit of a gimmick, a quarterback running the read option in the NFL. It was thought that Denver’s 3-1 record this year with Tebow as a starter was a fluke, as much the byproduct of their defense’s strong play as anything that the cherubic player under center had done.
The fact that Tebow now has a fourth win as a starter is the answer to what the Jets thought.
Now, New York is left to pick up the pieces of a game where the offense played as poorly as could be expected, special teams made mistakes and the defense broke down like a cheap import on Denver’s final drive. The Jets lacked something on Thursday night in Denver and it was nothing in their game plan or even in execution.
What they lacked was Tebow.
A player who, facing 95 yards of field inside six minutes in the fourth quarter, didn’t cast a despondent look in the huddle, but rather he got determined. He didn’t read the press clippings and didn’t remember the loudmouths on TV and radio who said he wasn’t a NFL quarterback. Tebow didn’t buy a single mocking word Revis directed at him. Instead, he responded the one way he knows how.
Tim Tebow won a football game.
And as he stooped in prayer along the sidelines after his 20-yard touchdown that broke tackles and the hearts of millions in New York, the true greatness of Tebow emerged. He is a quarterback who steps up when he is needed most. It isn’t about histrionics or the lure of the spotlight, it is simply about winning.
That is something the Jets can’t seem to figure out this year.
There was no Tebow on the field for the green and white on Thursday night. The Jets, with a collection of All-Pro talent on both sides of the ball, couldn’t find what it takes deep inside to gut out the win. The game was theirs for the taking as they held a 13-10 lead until Tebow’s game-winning touchdown inside the game’s final moments. They could have been 6-4.
They should have been 6-4. The Jets seemed to do enough to get this win and lift themselves above the disappointment of last week.
But they didn’t have Tim Tebow.
Follow Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.