With a few days to reflect before the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for the San Francisco 49ers next Monday Night, there are many fans out there who continue to be thrilled and shocked by the Denver Broncos. In fact if the season ended right now the Steelers would meet those Tim Tebow lead Broncos on wildcard weekend. Which leads to the question, how would the Steelers handle Tebowmania? Would their defense be able to successfully contain him?
It's true that the Broncos have taken off since Tebow took over, in fact have won seven games in a row and most recent was their fourth quarter comeback over the Chicago Bears. The Bears basically gave the game away with bad execution, horrendous game management, which gave way to Tebow doing what he has done in every fourth quarter over this seven game win streak. That is rally the Broncos in the fourth quarter even behind a two possession differential.
We are not going to go into stats here because with Tebow they are completely irrelevant, because they are mostly negative. For example he didn't complete a single pass for nearly two quarters of that game, yet somehow the Denver defense kept the game close, which allowed Tebow to exploit the Bears. Also theres the fact that Marion Barber forgot to just fall down inbounds when the Broncos had no timeouts, which allowed Denver to get the ball back and tie it. Then Barber coughed up the ball in overtime, which basically lead to the demise of the Bears.
The Bears were considered somewhat of a good defense just a few weeks ago when they pounded the Detroit Lions and have been in the top ten in the league for much of the year, yet how did they allow Tebow to work his late game magic? With the Bears a tad similar to the Steelers begin one of the faster defenses in the league would Pittsburgh be able to have someone like Lawrence Timmons or Larry Foote just spy Tebow all day? Would Dick Lebeau's blitzing defense be able to phase Tebow, with his Roethlisberger like way of scrambling with his feet and extending plays. While no one else in the game beside Aaron Rodgers has that ability to make a play unravel and use that as his strength like Roethlisberger does, Tebow is reinventing the quarterback position and with the Broncos now in the hunt for the playoffs people are noticing.
Tebow's reinventing of the position is very similar to what Roethlisberger did back in 2004 as Big Ben came in and used his legs as John Elway did but did so in a Pittsburgh Steelers run first offense that didn't expect that. Roethlisberger made defenders have to over think on the field whether to go after him or to stay in coverage, and now Tebow is using a similar style and its working.
The Steelers defense is No.1 in the league and over the past six or seven weeks they have found themselves in fourth quarters with a one possession lead and pulled through. They relied on their past and their knowledge of knowing how and when to close out games when they have the lead. Although they only lost one of those games at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens, they should know how to handle a quarterback like Tebow and outsmart him. The Steelers, if the season ends as it is now and do have to play Denver, they cannot do what other teams have and that is underestimate Tebow's arm. He has shown that he can be accurate when needed, but also the Steelers cornerbacks would capatalize on all those errant throws. The style of a 3-4 defense could handle Tebow, but have to stick to their responsibilities in coverage, unlike what the Bears did in week 14. While the Bears do run a 4-3 which is different, there are many similarities of experience to the Steelers, which is amazing how they let a game like that slip through their fingers.
The wildcard for the Steelers if they met Denver is definitely Troy Polamalu. Polamalu with his ability to read the quarterbacks eyes would be able to outsmart Tebow and be able to eventually read his eyes or follow his predictable snap count.
On paper it looks like the Steelers would be able to overcome the Broncos, but that's what others have thought as well. For now its fun to think hypothetically but in four weeks time this matchup could become reality for the Steelers, who would learn all about Tebowmania.
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