Tim Tebow celebrates after Matt Prater kicked a 51-yard field goal in overtime to stun the Bears. | Jack Dempsey~AP
Updated: January 13, 2012 8:17AM
DENVER — You could feel it with 53 seconds left and the Broncos with the ball on their own 20 and the Bears leading by three, and the Broncos with no timeouts left and about a Popsicle chance in hell of winning.
What was it?
Tebow rumblings. Tebow possibilities. Tebow . . . miracles?
The kid with the legs of a fullback and the arm of a javelin thrower (but not the accuracy) — he couldn’t do this again, could he?
He couldn’t come from behind and beat the Bears after basically stinking up the joint for most of the game?
He could. And he did.
When he did do it, and the Broncos had won 13-10 in overtime, what were you supposed to say?
I will go into the desert and eat locusts?
I will handle snakes and speak in tongues because . . . because this damn stuff makes no sense?
Long after the game, with the press box nearly empty of the media who were down in the locker rooms getting the good and bad news, Bears general manager Jerry Angelo sat frozen in his chair.
One elbow was on the counter in front of him, one in his lap, and he stared blankly down at the field five stories below. Nobody was around. He just stared. When he finally got up to leave, slowly putting on his business coat, he looked 10 years older than when he entered the stadium.
There was the journalistic thought of talking to the Bears’ GM about what he had just witnessed. But why do that? Angelo looked barely a part of this world.
Such is Tebow mania, from the hurtin’ side.
Maybe Marion Barber’s refusal to stay inbounds on a late run — one of the dumbest moves this sportswriter has seen in years — and his overtime fumble were caused somehow by Tebow fever or the power rings emanating like shockwaves from Tebow fever.
“I might have thanked the Lord when he did that,” Tebow said of Barber running out of bounds.
As Broncos coach John Fox said, “It’s amazing how you can turn things around when they’re going bad.”
Fox said the last minutes of Tebow-induced noise at Sports Authority Field at Mile High might have caused the Barber freak-outs and the Bears to get confused, generally.
Who’s got a better explanation?
Tebow, a 6-3, 235-pound tight end in a quarterback’s jersey, is to fine helmsmanship as a dockworker is to ballet.
And then he comes together at the end of games, drops the caveman posture and slingshot inaccuracy and becomes a weaving, laser-guided magician.
This was his sixth fourth-quarter or overtime comeback victory in his first 11 starts in the NFL, for God’s sake.
And God, if you’re reading, doing some Monday-morning quarterbacking, would you mind telling the rest of us what’s up with this proselytizing young minister who did nearly a full minute of his famed “Tebow-ing” on the goal line, balancing motionless on one knee, chin on fist like Rodin’s “The Thinker,” while the rest of his team lined up for the opening kickoff?
Imagine, at the end of three quarters, Tebow’s passing stats were three completions in 16 attempts for 45 yards, one interception and a 13.5 quarterback rating. And his team was down 7-0.
Of course, the first three quarters don’t count in Tebow time.
But the fourth quarter? How about this: 15-for-20 for 163 yards, a touchdown and a passer rating of 115.2.
He was 3-for-4 for 28 yards and a 93.8 rating.
Of course, all that matters in this fantasy land of numbers is that the guy who runs the college option like he’s an undergrad at a U.S. military academy, throws like a cowboy lassoing a steer and smiles when people tell him he’s an NFL misfit, simply wins. He’s 7-1 this season. Six straight victories.
Astoundingly, the wild-armed guy who is less than average for the first three quarters of his games, has a Hall of Fame-like quarterback rating in the fourth quarter and overtime of 110.2. How can this be?
He has, Fox says, “competitive greatness.”
Did we mention he also runs over people?
Tebow ran 12 times for 49 yards, and has 517 yards rushing this season, the most ever for a Broncos quarterback. His two runs on the last two offensive plays, for six yards, set up Matt Prater’s winning field goal.
“He’s a good running back,” was Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher’s curt evaluation of Tebow’s quarterbacking skills.
Can’t blame the Bears for being dazed and hurt.
Can’t blame talent evaluator Angelo for barely making it out of the building.
Can’t blame anybody for anything.
Easier just to believe.