Tim Tebow is blessed. Marion Barber is cursed.
Tebowmania struck again in Denver today, as the Broncos beat the Bears 13-10 in overtime, to improve to 8-5 on the season — and 7-1 since Tebow became their starting quarterback.
But as much as this game was about Tebow, it was about Barber, the Bears’ running back whose two costly mistakes set up the Broncos’ game-tying field goal at the end of the fourth quarter, and the Broncos’ game-winning field goal in overtime.
As usual, the Broncos fell behind on Sunday as Tebow struggled to get things going offensively. And as usual, Tebow came alive and made some big plays late in the fourth quarter. By now, that’s so routine that we probably don’t even need to say it — you can just assume that’s what’s going to happen in a Broncos game.
But the specifics were even more unbelievable this time around: Tebow was 3-for-16 for 45 yards, with no touchdowns and one interception, in the first three quarters. In the fourth quarter and overtime, he was 18-for-24 for 191 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions.
“This is an unbelievable feeling,” Tebow said afterward. “You have something special when you have a team that nothing’s going right but you continue to believe.”
For the Bears, the heartbreaking loss will be blamed largely on Barber. Not only did Barber make a huge mistake with 1:55 remaining in the fourth quarter, running out of bounds when the Broncos were out of timeouts to give Denver just enough time for their game-tying field goal, but he also fumbled in overtime to give the Broncos the ball before their game-winning field goal.
Special teams were huge in this game, and most of the way it was the Bears who were benefitting from big plays in the kicking game: Julius Peppers blocked a Denver field goal attempt, Bears kicker Robbie Gould nailed a 57-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, the Bears’ only touchdown drive was set up by a long Devin Hester punt return, and the Bears recovered a Broncos onside kick with 2:05 remaining. But special teams were also huge for the Broncos in the end, as Matt Prater hit a 59-yard field goal to send the game into overtime and then a 51-yard field goal to win the game in overtime.
But more than anything else, this game will be talked about as the latest installment of Tebowmania. At this point, even the greatest Tebow skeptics can’t help but believe.