The scene was bizarre.
Former Florida coach Urban Meyer was standing on the sideline talking with Miami owner Stephen Ross as his former quarterback rallied the Denver Broncos from a a 15-0 deficit to a 18-15 overtime win over the Dolphins.
As Tebow, who was 3 for 8 for 24 yards after three quarters, began to lead the comeback, it made you wonder, if Meyer at some point, said to Ross, “I’ve seen this before, and I know how it comes out.”
It was more bizarre that the score was 15-15 at the end of regulation, the number of Tebow’s jersey.
Perhaps, the most bizarre aspect of the day was how two or three times early, the chant was “Tebow Sucks! Tebow Sucks! Tebow Sucks!”
At the end, however, it was just “Tebow! Tebow! Tebow!”
The majority of the 63,800 fans that showed up were cheering for Tebow to play as badly for four quarters as he did for three.
As he did so many times during his Florida career, those hoping for his failure and the failure of his team went home unhappy.
Tebow got the last laugh.
He drove the Broncos 80 and 56 yards in their final two possessions for touchdowns, and he scored the two-point conversion himself on a familiar Tebow dive around the right side to tie the game.
After D.J. Williams, a former Miami Hurricane caused and recovered a Matt Moore fumble in overtime, Matt Prater, who attended UCF, kicked a 52-yard field goal making the Broncos 2-4 and the Dolphins to 0-6.
“I’ve seen it before,” said Dolphin center Mike Pouncey who was on the 2008 national championship team with Florida, “but today, it sucks. I was wanted our team to get its first win.”
After the game, Pouncey congratulated Tebow and said he would see him in the off-season when they do some charity events together.
“All the critics have been hard on him,” Pouncey said, “and I’m sure they would have been happy if he had lost today. What he did today he has done before and will do again. For me, though, this was the worse kind of loss.”
On a day when the Dolphins honored Florida’s 2008 national championship team, Tebow advanced his winning streak at Sun Life Stadium to three games in his fourth NFL start and first of 2011.
He led Ponte Verda Nease High School to the Florida’s 4A state high school championship in 2005 with a 44-37 win over Seffner Armwood.
In the 2010 Orange Bowl, he led the Gators to a 24-14 win over Oklahoma and the national championship.
“He’s a polarizing figure,” Dolphin defensive end Jason Taylor said. “He’s had a lot of success in Florida. He has a large following, which is fine.
“We gave him some chances, and he did what he does best and that’s to create. He kept fighting. He’s one of those guys that win games. He makes plays and finds ways to win.”
It appeared with 5:23 left in the game if Tebow’s winning streak was in serious jeopardy. At that point, Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy made the game’s most critical decision.
He went to a no huddle offense and spread his receivers across the field. Instead of Tebow continuing to struggle with a more structured offense, he was in a familiar offense that won him a Heisman Trophy atFlorida.
With his team trailing, 15-0, and timing slipping away, he was also in a familiar situation. He rescued the Gators numerous times from similar circumstances.
“The situation gave me some confidence,” Tebow said. “I have been in it before. I relaxed a little. It started with little bits, and then we started to get chunks.
“As a player and an athlete, you can’t lose confidence in yourself. If you do, you’ve lost already. I believed in the people around me, and that eventually, we were going to be able to get things going, and we did.”
In the final quarter and overtime, Tebow completed 10 of 19 passes for 137 yards with two touchdowns, and he ran twice for 17 yards giving him 65 in eight carries for the game.
After the second Denvertouchdown, the most obvious play was Tebow running for the two-point conversion, but the Dolphins couldn’t stop him.
“The whole stadium knew he was going to get the ball,” Miami linebacker Karlos Dansby said. “We were in position. We just didn’t make the
Tebow understands the victory over the Dolphins is only one win as he tries to prove himself to Coach John Fox and John Elway, the Broncos’ chief of football operations.
“It was my fault that we were in that position in the first place,” Tebow said. “I just have to play better in the first three quarters so we don’t have to make that kind of comeback in the fourth.”
Fox was restrained in his praise of Tebow making sure the euphoria of the moment didn’t become something more that it already was.
“We didn’t start fast,” Fox said. “We didn’t throw the ball as well as I would like particularly early. At the end, he made a lot of big plays, both with his feet and his arm. Guys helped him with the receptions they made.
“That’s the NFL. Not every pitch is a strike. The game is only fun when you win, and I’m real pleased that he was able to pull us out of it today. He is a young player who is just going to get better. I saw him get better today. I hope he gets better by next week.”
As is the case in the NFL, it is the score after 60 minutes or overtime that matters, not the score after 55 or 58 minutes as many of the Dolphins reiterated afterwards.
A bizarre ending to a bizarre day was awaiting Tebow when it was over.
He came back to the field for an interview about 90 minutes after the game and was greeted by several members of the 2008 Florida team who had hung around and several hundred Gator fans.
Doubts remain about Tebow as a NFL quarterback, make no mistake, but one thing was reconfirmed against the Dolphins. Tebow can be ordinary for most of a game, but if given a chance to win, he knows what to do.
Just ask the Dolphins.