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Tebow has some nice moments in debut

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By Eric Edholm

Keep in mind this was third-stringers vs. third-stringers.

But it was hard not to be semi-impressed by Tim Tebow's debut in garbage time in the Broncos' 33-24 preseason loss to the Bengals.

Tebow finished the night 8-of-13 passing for 105 yards and rushed for a seven-yard score as time ran out in the game.

Those stats don't reflect two clear drops, including a long pass that was on the mark and a would-be touchdown. Tebow also was clearly harrassed by the Bengals, getting some poor blocking from the Broncos' shoddy third-string offensive line.

I thought I would go through his night, pass by pass, including his two scrambles, and break down what I saw (don't worry, I won't be doing this for every game he plays).

Here goes:

  • First pass play: A checkdown to TE Marquez Branson. A safe read and a safe play, picking up five yards.
  • Second pass play: Tebow made a gorgeous throw downfield to WR Matthew Willis that would have been good for 30 or more yards, but Willis flat out dropped it. The Broncos had to punt.
  • Third pass play: On the next series, Tebow was flushed from the pocket and was just able to get off the ball, albeit a bit wobbily, to WR Britt Davis for seven yards.
  • Fourth pass play: Tebow's mechanics failed him a bit as he overthrew Willis and almost had it picked off by Bengals CB David Jones. Poor pass, another punt.
  • Fifth pass play: Tebow was hit by DE Frostee Rucker as he threw the ball and almost had it picked off again. In fact, both DT Geno Atkins and DB Johnny Sears had chances for interceptions. The intended target, WR Alric Arnett, really didn't have a chance to make the catch.
  • Sixth pass play: Tebow stood up well to the pressure in a collapsing pocket and hit RB Bruce Hall for a gain of six yards on the checkdown.
  • Seventh pass play: Tebow's best throw of the night. He back-shouldered Arnett on a pretty fade-stop route and picked up 21 yards on third-and-4.
  • Eighth pass play: Tebow rolled right to get out of pressure but couldn't spin around and get rid of the ball before Atkins took him down for a two-yard loss.
  • Ninth pass play: On third-and-9, Tebow again was sacked, this time getting crushed. The ball came loose as he was trying to get rid of it, and the Bengals ran it back for a score. But the booth review showed Tebow's arm was going forward and the Broncos got the ball back.
  • Tenth pass play: On fourth down, Tebow was the victim of a bad snap (as in, it never got to him), but he picked it up and tried his best to gain yards with his legs. He got three yards, far from the first down. Turnover on downs.
  • Eleventh pass play: The Broncos got one more crack to evaluate Tebow on the final possession of the game. He tossed a well-executed screen pass to Hall, who did most of the work, for 17 yards.
  • Twelfth pass play: Tebow was a little slow getting his team back to the huddle and probably lost a second or two. Totally correctable. He did, however, hit Hall for another nine yards on a short pass over the middle.
  • Thirteenth pass play: Tebow hit Branson for seven yards on a little hook route.
  • Fourteenth pass play: Another really good throw. Tebow rolled out and found an open Davis for 33 yards along the right sideline. Well done.
  • Fifteenth pass play: Amid heavy pressure, Tebow got loose and hit a wide-open Branson for a touchd ... another drop. Branson was all alonen and the throw was perfect. Review confirmed that the tight end just gacked it.
  • Sixteenth pass play: Tebow dropped back and, just like at Florida, the seas parted. You knew he was going to run it, and he did — hard. Tebow powered into the end zone, college style, but took a thumping from Broncos LB Abdul Hodge and S Kyries Hebert on the way in. Bet he earned some toughness points from his teammates on that one. Seven-yard score as time expired.

All in all, a pretty solid debut. The offensive line was putrid, and the two drops would have given him around 140 yards and a TD passing had they been caught on only 13 attempts. But there were two bad throws and a few recognition errors he has to clean up.

I admit, though, it was far better than I expected. Even in garbage time. It appears that Josh McDaniels and Co. have done pretty well with him so far.

Nice start to the Tebow Era. Now if they only can block for him.

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