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Final Drive Finishes Jets

Posted Nov 18, 2011

Tim Tebow capped off a 95-yard drive in the closing moments with a 20-yard TD run, paving the way for a thrilling 17-13 comeback victory over New York.

 
DENVER -- The Broncos had them right where they wanted them.

It's a remark countless viewers must have half-heartedly said aloud as they watched the Tim Tebow-led offense start a drive on their own 5-yard line, down 13-10 to the Jets with 5:54 left in the game.

Sure, Tebow had led comebacks before. But this was the vaunted Rex Ryan-led Jets defense. The one that has built a blitz-heavy, aggressive persona based on rattling even the most seasoned quarterbacks. And through 54 minutes of play tonight, the New York defense looked the part, allowing just 134 total yards.

But when it comes to inconceivable, come-from-behind victories, Tebow isn't joking.

He just keeps winning.

"Everybody was kind of like, 'Watch this,'" cornerback Andre' Goodman said of the Denver sideline as the offense took the field. "It felt like we knew something was going to happen."

Something happened, alright.

After running 11 plays and churning 3:54 off the clock with an often empty-backfield, spread attack, Tebow took a snap on third-and-4 on the New York 20-yard line with just over a minute remaining.

The attack-minded Jets defense brought a blitz. But Tebow escaped.

And at that moment everyone at Sports Authority Field at Mile High knew he had just done it again.

"That's just what he does," defensive end Elvis Dumervil said with a smile.

Tebow sprinted 20 yards down the left sideline into the end zone, giving Denver a 17-13 lead as he was swarmed by elated teammates with 58 seconds left.

"We went to a formation that we felt pretty good about that utilizes Tim's abilities," Head Coach John Fox said. "I think it was evidence with that last touchdown."

The Broncos defense forced an incompletion on a Hail-Mary attempt at the goal line as time expired and it was over.

Broncos 17, Jets 13.

"He ended up driving on us. He did it," Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis said. "Tim Tebow did it. He shocked me, he probably shocked a lot of people. But he did it."

Tebow's 20-yard score pushed Denver past Revis and the Jets to the team's fifth victory of the season, but it was the Broncos defense that stood tall and made a comeback possible.

Until the final three drives of the game, the Broncos average starting field position was their own 45-yard line. They had five drives start on the Jets' side of the field.

But despite the ideal field position, the Denver offense was only able to put three points on the board - courtesy of 37-yard conversion by Matt Prater in the first quarter - prior to Tebow's score.

By halftime, the Jets had tied the game 3-3, and on their first drive of the second half, they took a 10-3 lead when offensive lineman Matt Slauson pounced on a fumble in the end zone.

The Broncos struggled to move the ball on their next two drives and were forced to punt.

In need of points, the Denver defense delivered.

Goodman intercepted a Mark Sanchez pass intended for Plaxico Burress and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown. The cornerback often matched up with Burress had been targeted repeatedly by Sanchez, who connected with his big wideout on three occasions early in the second half.

But on third-and-6 late in the third quarter, Goodman read Sanchez's eyes, jumped the pass intended for Burress and took it the distance to tie the game at 10.

"They came at me a couple plays before that and I knew they were feeling good about the matchup," Goodman said. "I just got a good break at the right time and was able to score."

On the ensuing kickoff it was the Denver special teams' turn to make a play.

Wesley Woodyard stripped the ball loose from Joe McKnight and Cassius Vaughn recovered the fumble at the Jets 42-yard line.

But again the offense sputtered, going three-and-out.

Five minutes into the fourth quarter, the Jets took the lead as an 11-play drive culminated with a 45-yard field goal from Nick Folk.

From there the teams exchanged three-and-outs and a New York punt pinned the Broncos down at their own 5-yard line with just under six minutes remaining. The defense had kept the Broncos in the game.

It was up to a struggling offense to produce in the closing moments.

On a wall just outside the entrance to the Broncos locker room there's a message in big, bold type that reads "Don't Be Afraid To Be Great."

The players see those words each time they head to the tunnel to take the field. And at the 5:54 mark of the fourth quarter, down by three, they couldn't have been more relevant.

"When we were in the huddle, what we were talking about as an offense was, 'You want opportunities like this because this is an opportunity for greatness,'" Tebow said.

In the face of all their struggles offensively, the Broncos didn't fear greatness. With six minutes to decide a game, they found a way to achieve it.