DENVER – Tim Tebow’s 20-yard touchdown run with 58 seconds left capped a 95-yard drive and sent the Denver Broncos to a 17-13 victory over the stunned New York Jets on Thursday night.
Tebow saw a blitz and outflanked safety Eric Smith around the left edge, then cut back and bulled his way past other Jets into the end zone.
“We have a resilient team,” Tebow said.
And a resilient, if unorthodox quarterback.
The Broncos (5-5) are 4-1 since Tebow replaced Kyle Orton.
Tebow said during the week that the most exciting thing he did during the week wasn’t preparing for Rex Ryan’s dominant defense but announcing his foundation was building a children’s hospital in the Philippines.
The Jets (5-5) lost their second heartbreaker in five days. Mark Sanchez’s desperation pass toward the end zone was batted down as time expired.
Nick Folk’s 45-yard field goal broke a 10-all tie with 9:14 remaining, and the Broncos found themselves facing a daunting task when they got the ball back with 5:54 left at their 5.
New York safety Jim Leonhard could have throttled Denver’s winning drive on the first play when he wrapped up Eddie Royal in the end zone on a throw to the right flat, but Royal wiggled free for 8 yards.
Tebow ran just twice for 11 yards until the final drive, when he carried seven times for 58 yards in a performance reminiscent of his miracle in Miami, when he was ineffective for 55 minutes, then led the Broncos to two TDs in the final 5 minutes of a game Denver won in overtime.
After completing just two passes in a win at Kansas City four days earlier, Tebow completed 9 of 20 passes for 104 yards.
“I said before, I trust him. I trust him with everything,” teammate Von Miller said about Tebow. “No matter how many interceptions he throws, no matter how many touchdowns he throws. I’m going to ride him to the end. I hope he shut up a bunch of his critics today.”
The debate across the NFL is: Can the option keep working?
“I want to run whatever’s going to work,” Tebow said.
Before Denver’s unorthodox option offense prevailed again, it appeared the Jets were going to win this one thanks to an oddball touchdown – left guard Matt Slauson’s fumble recovery for a touchdown. Slauson recovered rookie running back Bilal Powell’s fumble at the 1 and dived across the goal line early in the third quarter to give New York a 10-3 lead.
Denver tied it at 10 when Andre’ Goodman stepped in front of Plaxico Burress and picked off Mark Sanchez’s ill-advised pass and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown.