(Update on "Gronkos vs. Broncos" - Gronkowski appeared on Dennis and Callahan Tuesday and spoke about facing the Denver Broncos and, of course, Tim Tebow, on Sunday in the Mile High City. "I'm fascinated," he told WEEI's audience. He said he gets to watch tape of the opposing offense for a few minutes each week. Sure he'll get a chance Sunday in Denver.)
The Legend of Rob Gronkowski had a major growth spike Sunday as the New England Patriots beat the Indianapolis Colts. The Legend of Tim Tebow continued its heavenly trajectory as the Denver Broncos beat the Minnesota Vikings.
Will it be "Goofus and Gallant" headlining the NFL in two weeks when New England visits Denver (4:15 p.m. on CBS until/if it's flexed to 8:30 p.m. on NBC)?
"Goofus spikes the ball after each touchdown. Gallant offers prayerful thanks on one knee."
"Goofus poses with porn stars. Gallant probably closes his eyes during Victoria's Secret commercials."
"Goofus loves to 'swag it out' at his old school. Gallant spends his time off building hospitals in the Philippines."
This legends-in-the-making showdown won't be a simple "Saint vs. Sinner" affair. Hardly. Gronk may be a very reverent, devout soul. We don't know much about Gronk's faith since it hasn't come up in conversation. No problem. Religious or not, Gronk has touched the inner-Goofus in all of us. Since we all liked Goofus the most, anyway. He was much more fun than Gallant. And as long as Gronk keeps scoring on the field, his scores off the field just add to his 6-foot-7 legend. Gronk is loved, beloved and lovable. He's got a slew of nicknames but his name beats them all. Gronk spikes the ball, gets fined $7,500 and then can spike a puck to pay for it. Gronk gets called onto the carpet for his Twitter time with Bibi and then was the only member of the offense who showed up in New England's loss to the Steelers. He broke the single-season record for tight-ends with his 14th TD of the season before it was ruled a lateral by the "CBS We Need To Come Up With A Reason To Keep Folks Watching" crew in the booth. Gronk didn't spike the ball and said in a Gronkesque manner afterward: "I'll take the rushing touchdown. It's the first of my whole career." Adding, "Now, I wish I had spiked it." Folk hero stuff.
We don't know much about about Tebow's private life. Really don't care. Just because Tebow is open about his faith doesn't make him Gallant . The Tebow haters are just waiting for him to get caught with a prostitute, father an illegitimate kid, arrested for drug possession or throw a his next interception. He fumbled Sunday. You could smell the venom on Twitter. Even when it comes to Tebowing, he doesn't have a harsh word. He was 10 for 15 Sunday with 202 yards passing and two TDs. Not bad for someone who can't throw. Tim Tebow's girlfriend (or if she exists) remains the best-kept secret this side of Carmine's password and the Tebow-bashers can't stand it. There are a couple of photos on-line showing Tebow posing with some bikini-clad swimmers. Scandalous. No way of knowing if they were porn stars. Tebow continues to silence the haters by winning and sharing his faith. Tebow is 6-1 as a starter. His latest come-from-behind victory was a result of a Christian's (as in Ponder) fallibility. Ponder's third pick set up the game-winning kick in Denver's 35-32 win.
Gronk's rise was a bit more predictable but they both have taken the NFL by shock and "aw, shucks" this season. Two big kids living the dream and tearing up the NFL. It's hard to root against Gronk or Tebow - even though they have such opposite public personas. Tebow has been on the football radar screen since eighth grade. His faith has been part of his story the whole time. Believe it or not, it's genuine. What makes Tebow so appealing on the field is his ability to win whenever it seems like he can't. Of course, no will suck more in the history of the NFL than Tebow will after his next loss. Hey, anyone who can make all the so-called experts - see the folks in Jacksonville who needed this guy to save their franchise but passed on him in the 2009 draft - look this foolish is a worth rooting for any day he's not playing the Pats.
Right now, only secular force that can beat the Patriots is the Patriots defense, The secondary reverted to its early-2011 footing against the Colts Sunday. Dan Orlovsky was able to complete his first seven attempts Sunday before the Pats finally realized Peyton Manning was on the sidelines. Tom Brady and the offense "played 45 minutes of good football" before taking off most of the 4th quarter. New England dropped the no-huddle on Indy in the 2d quarter and ran off a three-touchdown outburst over a nine-minute span starting at the 6:40 mark of the 2d quarter with Gronk's first TD of the day and perhaps his best spike of the season.Law Firm then ran it in to close the half and the Pats began the third quarter with Brady going seven for seven.
Lucky No. 7 on that drive was a 21-yard TD pass to Gronk, his 13th TD of the season. By the time the 4th quarter started - the Pats were up 31-3 and the only suspense - we thought - left in the game was the 21-point spread.
But the Colts scored 21 unanswered points and Orlovsky crushed the Christmas dreams of kids across New England with his 33-yard bomb to Pierre Garcon with 2:12 left. In the best pass of the day, Garcon fired a bullet that hit the bull's eye of the "Gronk Spike It Here" sign in the right-hand corner of the end zone. That score ruined any chance the Pats had to cover the line ("Sorry, honey, but I can't afford the new Justin Bieber doll because the Patriots couldn't contain Dan Orlovsky in the last three minutes.") I can't imagine giving 21 points in an NFL game. Then again, the way the Pats played for the middle two-and-a-half quarters on Sunday, they could have covered a 41-point spread.
As the Pats packed it in, the Colts were able to rack up 436 total yards of offense and make this a successful on-side kick away from being perhaps the worst disaster in Foxborough since The Jackson's Victory Tour. It was way too close for discomfort. Yes, we know stats are for losers, but just take a peek at this: Orlovsky was 30 for 37, with 353 yards passing, two TDs and one INT. The next time you think the Patriots defensive secondary is up to the task come playoff time, remember those numbers. Orlovsky couldn't pass for 353 yards on Madden 2012 even if you wanted to be Orlovsky on Madden 2012. If was his best career passing performance since a 445-yard effort against Syracuse for UConn - in 2004. The pride of Shelton, Conn., looked like he was tearing up the Southern Connecticut Conference as the Gillette crowd disappeared. Did anyone on this planet have Orlovsky active on their fantasy team this week? Even Dan's sister - according to Marvelous Marv and Rich Gannon - wore a Brady shirt Sunday.
Sure, this was garbage time. The Pats played like garbage. 31-24. I'm with Bill Belichick's party line on this one. "We've obviously got to do a better job of finishing off the game," the Hoodie said. "We'll work on that." Please do. By the way, it was ridiculous to hear those boos for Adam Vinatieri. He's no Johnny Damon.
Aside from the Tebow Bowl in two weeks - the schedule has more traps than Double Jeopardy. The Redskins, Dolphins and Bills are all that's left outside of Denver. Belichick's warnings about taking opponents seriously won't be any less intense during the holidays. At 9-3, the Pats are pretty much locked into no worse than the No. 2 spot in the AFC. Right now, this defense will be good enough to earn them a first-round bye and and another home playoff loss. The offense, on the other hand, might be good enough to keep pace with Aaron Rodgers in the Super Bowl. Until the playoffs, there's no Red Sox collapse in this team. Sacks by Vince Wilfork, Rob Ninkovich and Jerod Mayo's interception were the only reasons to ally the fears of fans concerned about Joe Flacco or Ben Roethlisberger in January.
Never mind Tebow in two weeks.
Don't forget to join our weekly Patriots in-game fan chat Sunday against the Redskins. We'll get it started at about 1. As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And don't forget to follow us on twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.
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