DENVER, CO — Tim Tebow did it again. Backed up on their own five-yard line, Tebow marched down the field before scampering 20 yards for the go-ahead score with 56 seconds remaining in the game. That put the Denver Broncos up for good, 17-13, defeating the New York Jets on Thursday night.
Tebow saw the Jets stack the box with nine defenders and man coverage on the edge. He rolled out, evaded safety Eric Smith on the left edge and steamrolled his way to the endzone.
He’s not your average quarterback, that’s for sure. But Tebow did what he’s done his whole career: beat the odds, defy the doubters and win. The Broncos (5-5) are 4-1 since he replaced Kyle Orton as the team’s starter at quarterback.
The Jets (5-5) have lost two games in four days — both, in their own right, hard to swallow. Mark Sanchez (24-40, 252 yards, 1 INT), who’s been under fire as of late for his mediocre level of play and untimely game-managing skills, did little to prove doubters otherwise.
Nick Folk hit a 45-yard field goal to break the 10-10 tie in the fourth quarter with 9:14 remaining. Tebow and the Broncos offense took the field for their final drive with 5:54 left in the game. Safety Jim Leonhard nearly put the game to bed, as he had Eddie Royal tackled in his own endzone, but managed to break free and gain eight yards on the play.
Tebow ran for 58 yards on seven carries on the final drive, as the Jets defense and Darrelle Revis looked to be lulled to sleep by the Broncos unorthodox offense. But it was that same unorthodox offense led by their polarizing young quarterback that won the game late.
It was after Matt Slauson’s improbable touchdown — a fumble recovery in the endzone after rookie Bilal Powell on the one-yard line, who replaced the LaDanian Tomlinson on the depth chart after suffering a MCL injury. The touchdown gave the Jets a 10-3 with just under 11 minutes to go in the third quarter. It was the first fumble recovery for a touchdown by a Jets’ offensive lineman since 1972.
Denver tied the game up as cornerback Andre Goodman stepped in front of a Sanchez pass that was intended for Plaxico Burress and return the interception 26 yards for the touchdown. It was third interception returned for a touchdown by Sanchez this year. On the ensuing kickoff, the league’s best kick returner Joe McKnight, was stripped at his own 41-yard line and the recovery was made by Cassius Vaughn. The turnover proved to be fruitless, as the Broncos went three and out on the following drive.
McKnight and Powell split the carries for the Jets, who lost starting running back Shonn Greene did not return in the second half after suffering a rib injury earlier in the game. McKnight totaled 121 yards on the day while Powell gained 18 total yards in the NFL debut. Greene left the game with 3:24 left in the first half after catching a 4-yard screen pass.
The Jets stacked the box on defense, a calculated move to stop the college-like option scheme that made Tebow a historic quarterback at Florida. But the defense could only record one sack and one QB hit on the former Heisman winner.
They did manage to hold Tebow to 9-20 passing, but failed to force him into mistakes. Instead he dropped back and fired a 28-yard strike to Demayrius Thomas on a seam route for the first play of the game. Yet after that play and until their final drive, the Jets stymied Tebow and the Broncos option attack.
Following a botched punt where the Broncos got the ball at the Jets 34-yard line, kicker Matt Prater made a 37-yard field goal to break the 0-0 tie. The Jets tied the game at 3 apiece after Folk’s 21-yarder, that came following a Willis McGahee fumble recovered by Bart Scott.
Folk’s 61-yard try as time expired came up short, getting little help from the thin Denver air.
Notes: In addition to Tomlinson, the Jets had three inactives on Thursday night. Jeremy Kerley (left knee), Brodney Pool (sprained left knee) and Shawn Nelson (illness) all did not play.
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