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Steinberg: Tebow makes believers with heroics

Steinberg Says

December 17, 2011|By Leigh Steinberg

There is magic happening in the National Football League this season that can brighten all of our lives. A quarterback, who has a quirky delivery and is built like a fullback, has engineered a series of fourth-quarter comebacks that defy belief. Against all odds, Tim Tebow has played at an almost supernatural level when the game is on the line. If this was a movie, it would be unvelievable.

I'll admit I was a skeptic. I have specialized in the representation of NFL quarterbacks for almost 40 years. There was a weekend where I represented half the starting quarterbacks on the field. My clients have been big, strong-armed physical specimens with rocket arms.

I watched Steve Bartkowski warm up in the L.A. Coliseum and launch the ball from one end zone to the other. I saw Drew Bledsoe carry Bruce Smith on his back and shake off the sack. I've seen Ben Roethlisberger lower his head and knock over tacklers.

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Tim Tebow is a Munchkin next to the prototypical 6-foot-4 quarterback. He specialized in jump passes and running at Florida where he won the Heisman Trophy. His passes in the first three quarters of many games land in front or back of receivers. But I have never seen a quarterback with a more uncanny ability to elevate his level of play in the critical moments and will his teammates to elevate theirs. He is quite simply, a winner.

In last Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears, Tebow went two for 16 in the first half and the Broncos could not score. The sanity of the Denver coaching staff in leaving him on the field was in question. But along came the fourth quarter and it was "Tebow Time."

It was as if some celestial force wakened him from his slumber and energized him. Denver was down 10-0 and he led a long drive to make the score 10-7. With little time on the clock and extraordinary pressure, he worked his team to field position that would require a 59-yard field goal to tie. Matt Prater made the kick and forced the game into overtime.

Chicago got the ball first in overtime and marched it down in Denver territory for an almost certain field goal and an end to Tebow's charmed existence. But no, Chicago running back Marion Barber III fumbled and Denver got the ball back. Then Tebow drove the field to set up a 51-yard field goal, not an easy kick, but it sailed through the uprights for yet another improbable victory.

He rarely ran on these drives, his passing was accurate and efficient.

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