Tebow’s special season ends with rout by Patriots

Looks like Tebowmania has run its course.

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow couldn’t pull off another

improbable comeback on Saturday night, when Tom Brady and the New

England Patriots effectively buried the NFL’s feel-good story of

the year with a 45-10 rout.

The Patriots advanced to the AFC title game for the sixth time

in 11 seasons, and the Broncos head into the offseason with renewed

questions about their unconventional quarterback.

”After a little while, when we continued to fall behind” it

sank in, an upbeat Tebow told reporters after the game. ”But even

at halftime, when we came in and said we were going to play one

play at a time, you never know what’s going to happen. We just

weren’t able to get it done.”

The Tebow phenomenon was built during a six-game winning streak

– three of them in overtime – and then magnified when he hit

Demaryius Thomas for an 80-yard touchdown on the first play of

overtime in last week’s playoff victory over the Pittsburgh

Steelers. But the Patriots overwhelmed the Broncos, and Tebow

wasn’t able to stop it.

”Overall, it’s been a very special opportunity for me,

something I’m very thankful for, very thankful I had the

opportunity to build some of the great relationships with teammates

and coaches,” he said. ”We’ve overcome a lot of different forms

of adversity, to win some special games, to have great memories of

last week and to be able to get into the playoffs. There’s a lot of

things we are proud of, even though it’s hard to see that

now.”

After scurrying around the field for four quarters – usually

with Patriots defenders close behind – Tebow stood calmly at the

podium in his postgame interview and tried to focus on the positive

things that have happened to him this season. Wearing a purple tie

and matching shirt, open at the collar, Tebow talked about meeting

a sick child in the hospital and bringing a smile to his face.

”I’m very thankful for that platform,” he said. ”So I

wouldn’t change it for anything.”

The Broncos were 1-4 when Tebow was named the starter. After

splitting his first two games, they won six in a row with him as

quarterback and Tebowmania was in full bloom.

Then the Patriots got to Denver on Dec. 18 and won 41-23 to snap

the winning streak. The Broncos lost their next two games as well

to finish with a three-game slide, but they qualified for the

playoffs when the Oakland Raiders lost to the San Diego Chargers on

the final day of the regular season.

In the wild-card round against Pittsburgh, Thomas’ 80-yard

touchdown catch-and-run on the first play of overtime gave the

Broncos their first playoff win in six years.

And heading into the second round, it was all Tebow, all the

time.

The internet buzzed with people Tebowing – mimicking the

quarterback’s pregame prayer pose – and that didn’t go over so well

in New England, where they think their quarterback deserves some

attention, too. Talk radio callers questioned Tebow’s talent, and

even fans at the Boston Bruins game started a derisive cheer

against the Broncos quarterback.

That carried over to Foxborough, where the ”Teeee-Bow!” chant

came out in the second half as he struggled to muster an offensive

attack.

”Sometimes you definitely don’t want it all because you’d love

to just go to dinner and hang out with friends and be a normal

24-year-old,” Tebow said. ”That makes it sometimes hard, but I

wouldn’t change it for the world just because by having that

platform to be able to walk into the hospital and share with

kids.”

Broncos coach John Fox said the team had a lot to be proud of,

and Tebow did, too. But there were few highlights on Saturday.

”We’re a work in progress,” Fox said.

On Denver’s first possession, Tebow threw an incompletion and

lost a fumble. By halftime, he had completed just three of 10

passes for 28 yards. By that time, Brady already had thrown five of

his six touchdown passes.

”I just wanted to show character. You just continue to fight,

and it doesn’t change who you are, who you play, how you go out

there. You should be the same at all times,” Tebow said. ”That’s

what I wanted to show. It didn’t matter whether it was the first

play or the last play or you were down by 42. I was going to be the

same player and I was still going to give everything I have.

Because that’s all I have to give. Every time I step on the field,

I’m going to give my whole heart, regardless score-wise of what’s

happening.”

Tebow just couldn’t overcome a defense ranked 31st in the

NFL.

”They did some good things, stunting up front,” he said.

”They played well. I thank my teammates for their effort even when

things didn’t go well.”

Now he goes into the offseason trying to improve. The question

is: Will he be the starter again next season?

”Of course, he’s our guy,” safety Rahim Moore said. ”People

put too much pressure on him. He’s going to have some good and some

bad. I believe in him and I would like him to be our

quarterback.”