Tim Tebow had hand in Broncos’ ultimate humiliation this season – Yahoo Sports
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Onto the field thundered the 350-pound quarterback, ready to bury the defending Super Bowl champions not under the heft of his girth but the deft of his touch. When he’s not putting the capital letters in Fat Guy Touchdown, Dontari Poe is merely a Pro Bowl defensive tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs. In this moment, on this play, he was the final insult in a season full of them for the Denver Broncos.
The play is called Tebow Pop Pass. Seriously, that is what Poe, who never has thrown a pass outside of his backyard, was told to run: “Tebow Pop Pass.”
It was a magnificent enough troll job by Chiefs coach Andy Reid to bust it out with an insurmountable lead against the one team that found Tim Tebow employable as a starting quarterback. But to see Poe clap his hands from the Wildcat formation, take a shotgun snap, rumble two steps, stop like he was in the lane for a pull-up jumper, hop like the play’s namesake did with his jump passes, flick a right-handed lob high over the defense and feather it into the caring hands of tight end Demetrius Harris for a 2-yard touchdown pass that capped Kansas City’s 33-10 throttling of the Broncos on Sunday night? Well, that sent the die-hards left from the original crowd of 76,671 at Arrowhead Stadium into giddy fits of apoplexy and the Broncos resigned to their place in highlight reels for, oh, maybe 50 years or so.
Few moments in football titillate quite like enormous human beings doing something other than crashing helmets in the trenches. A Fat Guy Touchdown run is precious enough. A Fat Guy Touchdown pass is a double rainbow, thundersnow – a miracle of nature so rare it must be appreciated. Even the Broncos, losers of three in a row, now officially out of playoff contention heading into Week 17, dared not protest its unveiling in the 59th minute of a game in which they trailed by 17.
“There was time on the clock,” Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib said.
“It’s our job to stop it,” Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said.
“That was a good play, man,” Broncos corner Chris Harris said. “I would’ve saved it if I was them.”
The Chiefs have more games to play, with a Week 17 game at San Diego that could clinch them a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs should the Derek Carr-less Raiders lose their New Year’s Day game at Denver. All the Broncos have left is the chance to play spoiler and a long offseason trying to figure out how, exactly, their sequel to Super Bowl 50 went so wrong.
An autopsy will reveal it started, like it ended, against the Chiefs. A month ago, the Broncos were 7-3. With three minutes left, they held an eight-point lead on Kansas City. The Chiefs scored with 19 seconds left, tied the game on a two-point conversion, chuckled heartily when Kubiak let kicker Brandon McManus try a 62-yard field goal in overtime instead of playing for the tie and got the last laugh when they drove the field and won with an upright-banging game-winner from kicker Cairo Santos.
After that game, linebacker Von Miller said: “We’ll be back.” Instead, the Broncos lost two weeks later to Tennessee and a week after that to New England. A locker room squabble ensued after the latter. And the Broncos, the picture of organizational stability, were teetering coming into Sunday, evident by the 21 points the Chiefs scored in the first quarter, the most a Denver team had allowed in the opening period in more than six years.
“This is not last year, man, as you can see,” Talib said. “We’ve got work to do. … We play this game to win Super Bowls and win AFC titles and things like that. When we don’t get it done, it’s very frustrating.”
Frustration may be the best word for these Broncos. The defense, for the most part, excelled. Coming into the game, Denver had allowed the second-fewest points in the NFL. The offense, meanwhile, lurched and wobbled all season, with second-year quarterback Trevor Siemian hit or miss and a patchwork offensive line mostly miss. This, of course, was the same formula the Broncos rode to a title last season – they scored less than a point per game more last year than this year – so casting aspersions on the offense is telling only part of the story.
“We didn’t improve as the season came,” Harris said. “We stayed the same or got worse.”
And that is how a season spirals like Denver’s did. The Tebow Pop Pass – “Bloated Tebow pass,” as Reid put it – wasn’t the death blow so much as a legal bit of unsportsmanlike conduct. Former Chiefs offensive lineman Donald Stephenson got hit with an actual version of the penalty after the Broncos’ third turnover of the night, and on the next play Sylvester Williams got tagged with a 15-yard facemask penalty, and it was all melting down, ugly to the last whistle, the unbreakable façade of the five-time division champion fading away.
“We’ve won the AFC West every year, man,” Harris said. “It’s their first chance to actually win it. It’s about time somebody beat us.”
This year, it was the Chiefs and the Raiders. And it leaves the Broncos and team president John Elway facing questions about the franchise’s future. Is their quarterback Siemian? Their first-round pick this year, Paxton Lynch? Or perhaps, like they did with Peyton Manning, do they make a run at an aging quarterback and go after Tony Romo? (Praise all that is holy, it is not Brock Osweiler.) Where, exactly, do they spend the $30 million or so in salary cap space they’re expected to have?
There are plenty more questions, plenty more tinkering to do, but on Sunday all the Broncos had was the sting of this loss to absorb, and that itself was enough. They sat on wooden stools stamped with the Chiefs’ logo, in front of cramped lockers made of cheap wood, standing on old red carpet that smelled of a thousand sweaty football players before them. Their season was gone in a most inglorious fashion, given away in the preceding weeks, taken for good by a fat guy who lived out a fat-guy dream: He had his cake and ate it, too.
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