Tebow gets light work in debut as Jags top Broncos

BY foxsports • September 13, 2010

As Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow jogged onto the field for warmups, television cameras captured his every move.

It turned out to be some of his best footage.

Tebow was a non-factor in his NFL debut, getting on the field for three plays and finishing with 2 yards on two carries in his hometown. Some even questioned whether the first-round draft pick stalled two drives in Jacksonville's 24-17 win over the Broncos.

''It's cool that the first opportunity for me to play in a real game was here in Jacksonville, a place that I've played a lot of games and been here a lot of times,'' Tebow said. ''It was a lot of fun.''

The Jaguars were the only ones celebrating afterward.

David Garrard, who played last season with ''Draft Tebow'' bumper stickers floating around town and teal-and-black No. 15 jerseys scattered throughout the stands, threw three touchdown passes and finished with the best passer rating of his nine-year career.

It came at the perfect time for Jacksonville, a small-market franchise trying to sell tickets, avoid television blackouts and eliminate more talk about relocation. The Jaguars called this victory one of the most important in team history.

''This was big for us,'' said tight end Marcedes Lewis, who caught two TD passes. ''We really got some juice out of our squeeze.''

Garrard completed 16 of 21 passes for 170 yards, and had a QB rating of 138.9. Mike Thomas caught six passes for 89 yards. Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 98 yards. Adam Podlesh dropped two punts inside the 10. Tiquan Underwood returned two kickoffs for 99 yards, setting up a touchdown and a field goal.

Jacksonville's defense was just as good. After ranking last in the league with 14 sacks a year ago, the Jaguars had three in the opener and hit Kyle Orton several other times. The defense also stopped Denver on fourth down with about 5 minutes remaining and intercepted a pass in the closing seconds.

''You get what you emphasize, usually,'' said Aaron Kampman, the team's biggest offseason acquisition who was involved in two sacks. ''We have emphasized getting after the passer.''

Kampman kept the performance in perspective, pointing out that Denver played with two rookies (center J.D. Walton and right tackle Zane Beadles) on the offensive line and had All-Pro left tackle Ryan Clady starting five months after knee surgery.

Knowshon Moreno ran for 60 yards behind the inexperienced line.

Tebow was less effective. Both carries came on first-and-10 plays. His first 1-yard run came after gains of 28 and 10 yards, and the drive ended with a punt. His second 1-yard run came after a 23-yard pass play, and the drive ended with a fumble. He also lined up at receiver once.

''We had a little package for 15, for Tebow,'' Kampman said. ''Obviously, we weren't anticipating him being a 20-snap guy. But when he came in, you saw that we were able to do pretty well.''

Tebow spent the rest of the game on the sideline.

''It was a learning opportunity for me, an opportunity to get better,'' Tebow said.

Orton gave him plenty to watch - at least until the fourth quarter.

Orton completed 21 of 33 passes for 295 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Orton's fourth-down pass to Brandon Lloyd in the corner of the end zone was ruled incomplete with 4:41 remaining. Lloyd, who caught five passes for 117 yards, didn't get both feet down.

''Made a lot of plays, but left a few out there,'' Orton said. ''We didn't make enough plays and that's unfortunate.''

The Broncos got the ball back with 1:50 left, but Daryl Smith stepped in front of Eddie Royal and picked off Orton's pass near midfield.

''We put ourselves in the situation to win, but didn't make the plays down the stretch,'' Orton said, blaming some of the problems on communication static that may have been caused by a thunderstorm that forced a 33-minute delay between the third and fourth quarters.

The Broncos are still waiting for Tebow to make an impact.

''Obviously, I'm competitive and I love playing the game, so I love being out there,'' Tebow said. ''For me right now, I've just got to learn and try to improve every day and get better.''

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