The word “scrutiny” takes on a new level of intensity when the topic of discussion is Tim Tebow. Win, lose, or sit on the bench and watch from afar, the former Gator can’t take a piss without getting critiqued by ESPN. And, through the first three quarters of Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins, he seemed more than willing to provide the fodder for a healthy dose of criticism.
But something happened towards the end of the fourth quarter. Call it the fortunes of playing a shit-tacular Miami squad, call it the law of averages decreeing that a player of his supposed stature can’t possibly be that bad – hell, call it whatever you want. But with his Broncos squad down 15-0 with three minutes left in the game, Tim Tebow showed a bit of magic that hadn’t been seen since his days in Gainesville. Conducting two do-or-die drives sandwiching an onside kick and then adding a needed two-point conversion to tie the contest, Tebow provided far and away his best NFL game yet. Whether or not this means anything in the grand scheme of things remains to be seen; his mechanics are still pretty awkward, and the three minute sample size was incredibly small. Still, hats off to the most hated-on man in the sport. For one week, at least, the vultures at ESPN will have to leave him alone.
Elsewhere on the East Coast, Cam Newton continues to shatter expectations and defensive schemes, leaving an uninspired Redskins team in his wake. One look at Cam’s most recent highlight illustrates how dangerous he is in the open field: dude possesses long, powerful strides that make it virtually impossible for smaller defensive backs to hang with. The DeAngelo Halls and LaRon Landry’s of the league have their work cut out for them when Cam hits open space. Add this to a passing game that is light years ahead of what critics (myself included) thought it would be, and Cam Newton appears destined for more than just Rookie of the Year. If his game continues to develop, there’s no reason to believe he won’t be one of the top two or three quarterbacks in the game.
— Give it up to Christian Ponder. The Vikings rookie signal caller from Florida State faired well, all factors considered, in his first start against the defending Super Bowl champs. Meanwhile, the 2011 Aaron Rodgers is on a mission to make the 2010 Aaron Rodgers look like Trent Dilfer (pick a year).
— If you actually sat and watched the Browns and Seahawks, bless your heart. No, seriously, that’s definitely an ESPY-worthy nominee for worst game of the year.
— Let this marinate for a moment: the Kyle Boller era in Northern Cali was shorter than The Playboy Club on NBC. As the Raiders quarterback carousel continues to become even more intriguing, Boller and Carson Palmer combined for six interceptions (three per half). Oakland appears to be a team going through a massive overhaul at the most important position during the absolute worst possible time.
— Plaxico Burress had his official “I’m back” moment as he helped the Jets clip the Chargers 27-21. What’s amazing is that they actually used him in plays better suited his to his strengths, i.e. throwing the ball to him in short yardage redzone situations. Hence the reason for Plax’s impressive, yet pedestrian-like stat line of four catches for 25 yards and three touchdowns.
— DeMarco Murray provided the Cowboys with two historic feats on Sunday. One, his 253 rushing yards are the new standard for single game rushing excellence (yes, not even Tony Dorsett or Emmitt Smith ran for that much in one contest). And two, he helped ensure every Cowboys fan nationwide would not have their blood pressure skyrocket. Dallas’ previous 11 games had all been decided by four points or less.
— Those Arian Foster hamstring jokes are so last month. Texans fans and Foster fantasy football owners had a field day watching the tailback scamper for 234 total yards (115 rushing), including the 78 yard catch and run seen below. And here’s a fun fact, Foster’s totals were more than the Titans had combined as a team. Anyone seen Chris Johnson?