Even without Tim Tebow, the Denver Broncos still have a knack for staging incredible second-half comebacks. Is it the altitude?
Last football season the Denver Broncos enjoyed a brief vogue as the team Americans loved to root for whenever such support did not conflict with more established loyalties. Part of the Broncos' mass appeal stemmed from the play of Tim Tebow, the former college phenom whose atypical style of quarterbacking and unique personality made him something of a cult hero. But another reason why jumping on the Broncos bandwagon appealed to so many disparate groups of fans with no tangible connection to Denver was the team's habit of staging dramatic and improbable comebacks in games they otherwise had no business winning. Five times during the second half of the 2011-12 season, Denver trailed at some point during the fourth quarter and still managed to eke out a victory. Two of those comebacks involved game-tying field goals that were kicked with less than two minutes left on the clock. The most dramatic occurred when Tebow improvised a game-winning touchdown run with only 58 seconds left against the New York Jets as a bewildered Rex Ryan looked onward.
Since there is no statistical metric for measuring a team's ability to make clutch plays when trailing late in a game, analysts and fans were left without an explanation for Denver's fourth-quarter heroics. Given Tebow's devout Christian beliefs and proclivity to advertise them, it became popular to joke that divine intervention truly favored Tebow and the team he led. In reality, it was a combination of the Denver offense's uncanny ability to come alive in the final minutes, Matt Prater's steady leg, a stingy defense, and sheer good luck that contributed equally to Denver's wins. It was an incredibly exciting brand of football, but popular opinion deemed it unsustainable. The magic had to run out sometime, and the end came with a bang when the New England Patriots pointedly ended Denver's season with a 45-10 beat-down in the second round of the playoffs.