With the Denver Broncos at 3-10, and starting quarterback Kyle Orton unable to play, many fans got their wish on Sunday: They saw rookie quarterback Tim Tebow finally start as an NFL quarterback, leading Denver into Oakland to take on the Raiders. But the milestone couldn’t mask a terrible Broncos defense, which allowed the Raiders to amass 502 yards in an ugly 39-23 loss (recap via NFL.com). More than 140 of the Raiders’ yards came on two plays in which Denver’s defense looked beyond amateur, allowing plays of more than 70 yards apiece. SB Nation wonders whether the Broncos are the worst team in the league, while also pointing out that they’re closing in on the second pick in the upcoming NFL draft, a prospect that is almost as intriguing as it is embarrassing.
Chances are Denver won’t need to use that pick on a quarterback, as Tebow’s performance yesterday will go a long way in keeping his critics at bay. His stats weren’t amazing—8-16 for 138 yards, and two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing)—but he showed some trademark moxie, which can’t be measured on a stat sheet. Tebow’s first-quarter rushing touchdown—a 40-yard scramble off a broken play (video here)—proves he has the legs and the courage to make things happen.
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King gives Tebow a mixed review, saying he’s improved his troubled throwing motion since he left college, but he still struggles with reading defenses and surveying the field for open receivers—he’s “still very much a work in progress.” The New York Times thinks Tebow should give Broncos’ fans hope, but the Denver Post’s Woody Paige calls him a “one-man Band-Aid,” adding that Denver’s problems are much too large for even Tebow to mask.