So if this Tebow fairy tale has any real muster to it, Sunday’s game against the Steelers has to be magical. If this Tebow thing really is an above-the-game type of story, then Tim either has to beat the Steelers in dramatic fashion and then face a climb-Everest-with-no-air-tanks rematch with the ferocious New England offense that spanked them in the regular season or he has to put up a fight beyond all fights against the most Steel of Curtains and fail in Tebow Time, fail in a way that if he would have just made one little adjustment, one little side-step, one foot less umph on an overthrow, then the Broncos would have won the game. A Butler-Duke NCAA Championship-esque loss, if you will.
So it’s more running diary time. Because after my Bears got Tebowed Week 14 in the most Tebowian fashion, I haven’t been able to get this man off my mind. We were the last team he beat, and we’re the last fans on the planet to feel the burn of his un-greatness. I have to believe that there was a reason for that. Maybe not a savior-of-our-people reason, but a story reason.
As a writer and also, yes, a person, I feed off story. I need drama. We don’t watch sports for the wins and losses. Time makes us forget those. But we never forget helmet catches. We never forget Roy’s magical 4th quarter. And you never, ever forget when you first get Tebowed.
So will Tebow do his thing today? Chances are, no. But the Steelers are without the cornerstone of their run game, have a hobbled Big Ben, and are backed by a defense with injuries and shuffling-a-plenty. All that being said, they’ve still got Ben. Like Tebow, he finds ways to win. Unlike Tebow, he has unmatched skill and two rings with that Lombardi guy’s name on it. It’s almost certain that Pittsburgh will prevail, but I have to be front row with pen and paper in hand just in case the Angels in the Endzone give Timmy a nudge in the right direction, leading the Broncos to what could potentially be one of the most fun upsets of all time.
Let’s get her started.
Steelers - Drive #1
Pittsburgh’s first drive has them moving. Heath Miller’s two grabs gets them to the 30 already. A couple incomplete passes later and Suisham puts a 45 yard kick through the uprights and to give Pittsburgh a three point lead.
Score: Pitt 3 - Den 0.
Broncos - Drive #1
A couple conservative runs that end in a near turnover. On third and seven, Tebow throws a crappy pass. Three and out.
Steelers - Drive #2
Wallace runs a really nice route. Surprised us all, right? Looks like the Steelers are going to drive hard here with some fancy momentum, but they stall on some solid coverage by the Broncos. Let’s see what the Horse does on their second drive.
Broncoes - Drive #2
Tebow with a nice scramble and a decent pass on second down, but incomplete. On third, they go conservative, and yup, they’ll be punting away again. So far, the offense looks a bit, well, like they’ve looked the past three games.
Steelers - Drive #3
Heath Miller’s looking mighty mighty. The Broncos blitz is letting him peel open. And the passing game is opening things up for Isaac Redman. He’s not a great back by any means, but if the passing game is on, he’ll have space. He’s picked up three nice first downs on this drive. The Broncos D has been pretty good this year, but a hand injury to Von Miller and tiring them out early will let Ben carve like a turkey butcher. The Broncos hold nicely again in the redzone, and Suisham hooks in a 38 yarder.
Score: Pitt 6 - Den 0.
Denver - Drive #3
Denver needs to move the ball here. They can’t afford going down by two scores this early. On first down, they put a full army on the line to attempt to make some running room for McGahee. Didn’t happen. Pitt stalls Willis behind the line of scrimmage. End of the quarter.
The game might still be close, but Pittsburgh looks to be in full control here. It’s not Tebow Time yet, so The Following can still remain calm, but if the Broncos O doesn’t start taking some pressure off their defense, this game won’t even let God’s wristwatch get close to Tebow Time.
Denver - Drive #3 (cont’d)
Alright Timmy! Twenty yard gain for Eric Decker set up by a lovely pass from Sir Timothy of the Round Table of Extraordinary and oh wait, the ball came out after a nasty hit by James Harrison that looks like it left Eric Decker’s leg broken in four places. I’m no doctor, but MCL, at least grade 2 AKA won’t return, sprain looks pretty probable. Pittsburgh challenges that ruling on the field of a catch... and it’s an incompletion. No catch. Denver in another offensive hole.
3rd and 12. TEBOOWWWW! Fantastic coverage leads to a 51 yard gain on a launch by Timothy to Demaryius Thomas. Lovely. They needed that.
And more TIMMMY!! Tebow throws a sexy 30 yard rainbow strike to Eddie Royal for a touchdown on the right side of the end-zone. Broncos take the lead! What did I say earlier? Oh yes, of course! Tebow had them right where he wanted them! Also, DL Brett Keisel’s beard limps off the field while Jim Nantz relays the info that Decker is out for the game. Big injuries that will definitely change the course of the game.
Score: Pitt 6 - Den 7
Steelers - Drive #4
Let’s see how these Steelers respond to a little Tebow magic. Before the drive, the broadcast pans the Denver sideline with a Tim Tebow snarling like an alpha lion. What a guy. The Steelers first play is a drop. Nervousness? Let’s find out...
Yeah, no. Wallace out runs everybody, and with one Roeth-bomb down the field, the Steelers are on the Broncos 30. Although... the catch looks a bit shaky. The 52 yarder is being challenged by the Broncos.
And a fine challenge it was! Take those 52 yards away from the evil Steelers... and yes, if you haven’t guessed by now, I’m rooting for Our Savior today. Definitely an angel who doubles as Doc from Back to the Future helping out on that last play. Steelers punt.
Broncos - Drive #4
Broncos throw another bomb! Just kidding. Two yard run for McGahee. But then, like a shining gemstone in a heaping pile of filthy turd, Tebow hits Thomas again for a 52 yard gain. Lovely play by the Broncos. They’re on the 13. Tebow starts the set with a keeper and a four yard run. And no, of course Tebow didn’t slide.
TEBOW KEEPS IT AGAIN FOR ANOTHER TOUCHDOWN!!!!!!! HIS TEBOWNESS STRIKES!!!!!!!!!
An obvious quarterback run, and the Curtain couldn’t do a thing. That Tim sure is incredible. The camera goes back to Tebow, and he’s on fire, belting only the most holy of things. Why he isn’t mic-ed up right now is a mystery to all civilization, even those without TVs who are watching through their hearts.
Score: Pitt 6 - Den 14
Steelers - Drive #5
Now the Broncos D has some cushion and some Tebow magic sprinkles backing it up. Another stop would be huge for Denver. The crowd is into it too. There’s no way anybody can hear Ben.
On 2nd down, Roeth is sacked. Ben’s ankle gets rocked, and he limps up slowly. Third and 16. Timeout Steelers.
After the timeout, interception! Ben’s way off target, and the Broncos are now 18 yards from the endzone.
Broncos - Drive #5
After a bad snap and near interception, the Steelers are called for a personal foul, roughing the passer. And who’s it on? Oh yeah, James Harrison. More surprises. Denver’s now on the nine. C’mon James, anyone but Tim.
A couple plays later, it’s third and goal. Unfortunately, for America, it’s an incomplete pass. Nice play call by rolling out Tebow, but it just wasn’t there. Prater kicks through a 20 yarder.
Score: Pitt 6 - Den 17
Steelers - Drive #6
Another pick by Ben! Unfortunately, it was an offsides penalty. That would have been too much. Gotta keep this game close for all inTebowensive purposes. Pitt gets a first down on another Denver penalty. They should just put Tebow on the D-line. He’d never get caught offsides. On first down, Ben looks like a statue. He can’t move at all. Denver’s defensive game plan now looks like “Make Ben ‘Meeting the In-Laws’ Uncomfortable.” Smart. And yes, of course that last joke has two layers.
On 3rd and long, the Broncos call a timeout. Very proactive, Mr. Fox. He wants to make sure the Steelers have no chance to score before the end of the half to gain momentum. The Broncos also get the ball after the half. I like the move. Stop them here, and Tebow it out until halftime. After the timeout, Wallace snags a ball over the middle, and with open field, looks like he’ll grab a first down, but rookie back Carter makes a solid tackle and takes Wallace out before he can cross the imaginary yellow line. Broncos ball.
Broncos - Drive #7
TIM WITH MORE MAGIC!!!! I CAN’T STOP CAPS-LOCKING!!!! Tebow entices an overreaction by the secondary and Broncos TE Fells goes for 40. On second and nine, McGahee gets some great blocking from is O-line and picks up a first down with a twelve yard run. Broncos on the 13, as they let the clock hit the 2 minute warning.
The Steelers stop the Broncos from getting into the endzone, and Prater pops through a 28 yarder.
Score: Pitt 6 - Den 20
Steelers - Drive #8
The Angels in the Endzone carry another Prater kick off out the back of the endzone. Steelers have a minute left and an 80 yard field to go. Ben starts it off with a nice back shoulder pass to Antonio Brown for 25 yards. Then, over the middle, Sanders grabs a pass that goes for 17. Just like that, the Steelers are into Broncos territory. I’m not a huge fan of the prevent defense, but it’s very Fox-ian. John’s hoping the Steelers run out of time before they can score. And they definitely don’t want Wallace to B-52 bomber himself open for a long TD.
But then a crappy snap nullifies any chance of a Wallace touchdown and sends Pittsburgh 20 yards backwards to the other side of the 50. Steelers punt it away after another phenomenally underrated timeout by John Fox to prevent a last second hail mary. Broncos kneel and take it to the locker room at:
Score: Pitt 6 - Den 20
Broncos - Drive #8
McGahee plows up the middle for a two yard gain, and then the option makes its first appearance and Willis gains an easy first down. Then, we see a rare first down throw for Tebow and a holding penalty is called on Ike Taylor. Nantz goes “It’s been a tough day for Ike Taylor.” Slight understatement. Tebow makes a certified NFL pass over the middle on a slant, and Denver is back in Pittsburgh territory.
Tebow dances around a bit on second down and instead of getting sacked, grabs a nice three yards. Great protection from the O-line. Denver tries a direct snap and falls short of the first down. Fox doesn’t hesitate - punt time.
Steelers - Drive #9
After starting to move the ball, Pittsburgh fumbles away what looks to be a lateral pass back to Mike Wallace. It’s called an incomplete pass, but Denver challenges the play. Unfortunately, a ref got whistle happy and blew it dead before a recovery. This probably means that it will be ruled a fumble but that Pittsburgh will retain possession. After all this was explained to Fox, he decides that the one yard isn’t worth it, because they can’t get the ball back through the challenge either way.
The Steelers line gives Ben some good protection, and he moves them up to the forty two. On the next play, Antonio Brown picks up 17 on an end-around. That Lateral Ref Early Whistle Blow Fiasco Bulls*%&, which it will be known as for all eternity, is starting to come back to bite the Broncos. Steelers gaining momentum. It’s been too long since I’ve seen Tim. He’s getting antsy. So am I.
Yup. Biting them in the ass. Redman breaks free from Bronco defenders into the endzone which brings the Steelers to within one score. Can’t say how upset I am about that lateral play. I mean, yeah, I’ve said it six times already, but really... Don’t take Tim’s chances away from him. So rude.
The play is getting reviewed. During the review, Tim throws on the sideline. Of course. What a good practicer. The touchdown is taken back, but Wallace runs an easy sweep into the right side of the end-zone. So lucky you are, Mr. Wallace. And really good, obviously. But lucky as well.
Score: Pitt 13 - Den 20
Broncos - Drive #9
Welp. Time to see if Tebow can overcome a terribly horrible call by the refs.
Alright, fine, I’ll let it go. But only because Tim’s letting it go.
Uh oh. Make up call. Ike Taylor with another pass interference call. It looked close initially, but the contact was there on replay. Broncos move up the field and try another option with zero places to go.
And then on second down, Timmy do what Timmy do and scrambles for eight. First down, Tebows! Err. Broncos! Yeah!!
And on the subsequent second down, Tebow’s nice fake and Harrison’s un-contain defense let’s Tim grab another first down.
With a couple short runs, Broncos set up a 3rd and medium on the 19. But medium things can’t stop Tebow. A short toss to Ball picks up the first.
Broncos - Drive #9 (cont’d)
The next play is kinda funny. Tebow fakes a give and goes up the gut and runs into a Steel wall, but the Steelers hesitate to tackle him. He dances a little bit, while they form a wall around him, and finally gets taken down. A weird sight for a normally overly aggressive Steelers D. Fear? Respect? Hm.
An offensive interference penalty on the next play sends the Broncos back a ways. A couple plays later leads to a snipe by Prater.
Score: Pitt 13 - Den 23
Steelers - Drive #10
This is Ben’s quarter. He loves the fourth. He plays phenomenally in the last fifteen minutes. I am scared for the Broncos.
Ben and the Steelers grab two easy first downs, and they’re already down to the Bronco’s 22. The Denver D looks tired, and the Steelers are blocking mightily. Redman breaks 100 yards rushing for the first time this season. He’s got 112 so far.
Ben’s starting to scramble better. Ankles tend to warm up after a while and the adrenaline of a fourth quarter will take most his pain away. I’m looking for him to run more.
Denver does a nice job in the redzone on an attempted pass over the middle to Heath, and they hold Pittsburgh to a Suisham attempt. The 37 yarder is good.
Score: Pitt 16 - Den 23
Broncos - Drive #10
Is it Tebow Tebow Time? Yes, the time in a game where Tebow is playing a full game of Tebow Time, but then somehow takes it to another level of Tebowness. 9:59 left? I don’t think it’s time yet. Denver needs to give this ball up, Ben needs to drive and score, and then it’ll be time.
Let’s pick up with this drive.
Uh oh. Tebow sneaks through the line and grabs twelve yards for a first down. Maybe I spoke too soon. On second down, Tebow escapes the scary Pittsburgh D and then tosses an ugly overthrow to Ball.
But never fear, on the next play, he throws a nice back shoulder pass to Thomas. Great timing on that pass. First down!
AND THEN A FUMBLE?!?!?! MCGAHEE!!!! All you have to do is let Tebow be Tebow and your team will easily coast to the Super Bowl and you go and cough up the rock?!?! Cut him.
Replay looks reaaalllllllyy close, but the ball comes out just before the knees hit. Broncos challenge. It’s the playoffs and it’s close, so I guess it’s a must-challenge, but they probably won’t win this one.
Steelers - Drive #11
Steelers ball. My short little prediction there is starting to fruitionize. They’re on their own 44. First down brings up a sack for the Broncos. The Steelers receivers were trying to get open way far down the field for an early strike, leaving Ben vulnerable. No dice for Pitt. 2nd and 16.
Sanders grabs 15 on second down. Third and short. Big play here. Redman pushes through for a first down, and the Steelers are on the Denver 42. 5:40 left to play. Ben takes what the defense gives him and runs for 6. Redman grabs the next four and then some. First down Steelers, on the 31.
Steelers going to Wallace for the touchdoooowwwwwnnn..... BATTED DOWN BY THE CHAMP! Should have been an interception, even. Nice read, Bailey, but you know how that play should have ended. No worries, Tebow shall forgive you.
And on the next play, Mr. Cotchery snags a fine laser by Ben and hangs on to the ball after getting rocked in the end-zone. Nice cotch. Tie ballgame.
Score: Pitt 23 - Den 23
Broncos - Drive #11
Tim’s teammates may have done a great job all year carrying him quarter after quarter, but McGahee and Bailey have, this time, forced Tim’s hand...
IT’S TEBOW TIME!!!!!!!!!!!
On first down, a non-Tebow play is called with a McGahee run. Fail.
On second down, Tebow launches a fastball to Fells while he gets rocked while the wind is windy while the Earth shifted axis and the play picks up a first. Nantz starts joking about the Broncos being in Prater field goal territory. They’re on their own 30. I kinda believe him.
On second down, Tebow bounces off everybody, doing his pinball routine, and throws the ball away.
DAMN IT. Tebow misses his receiver over the middle. Fourth down. Bronco punt. Tebow Time is no more. It’s up to the defense.
Steelers - Drive #12
Roeth thrives in these situations. 2 minute party. Game tied.
And on first down, the Broncos sack him. Huge. On second, Ben holds strongly in the pocket and makes a good throw over the middle for a first. Instead of calling a time-out, they run a quick play to Antonio Brown. They’re in Bronco territory now. Steelers on the 45. Yikes.
Those weird things that happen at the end of Tebow-hemled Bronco games need to start happening, because the Steelers are looking really solid right now.
On first down, BEN LOSES THE BALL, but recovers. Dumervil with a nice swipe of the pigskin, and the Steelers are forced to take another timeout. Huge play. Huge recovery.
And BAILEY WITH A MAKE-UP PLAY!! Sick knock-away from a toss that could have no doubt put the Steelers into field goal territory. Thank you Champ. Tebow knew you could do it.
The Steelers dump the ball off to their RB, and now it’s hail mary time. But... SACK!!! And Nantz proclaims, “We’re going to overtime!” The possibility of Tebow Time lives! Nice defense by the Broncos.
And now begins the first ever, non-sudden-death overtime game. Teams can’t win it on a first drive field goal. Wow. This can’t get any more insane. Denver wins the toss.
Broncos - OT Drive #1
This is the most excited I’ve ever been about a non-Bears game. This Tebow thing is way too much fun. We can’t let his year end now. C’mon Tim. The Broncos have only scored 3 points in the second half, so the Steelers have really adjusted properly. But. BUT. This is not your ordinary opponent.
Tim takes over on the 20. First and ten.
AND ONE PLAY IS ALL TIM NEEDS!
SEE YOU IN NEW ENGLAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!