Comeback win for Tebow, Broncos
MIAMI - Marlon Moore couldn’t hang on. Neither could the winless Miami Dolphins.
Moore’s bobble of an onside kick was one of several costly misplays down the stretch by the Dolphins, who gave up two touchdowns in the final 2:44 of regulation and lost to Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos, 18-15, in overtime yesterday.
The Broncos appeared beaten when they trailed, 15-0, with 5:23 left and took over at their 20. At that point Tebow was 4 for 14 for 40 yards.
But he led TD drives of 80 and 56 yards sandwiched around the onside kick, and he scored a 2-point conversion standing up with 17 seconds left to tie it.
In overtime, Denver’s D.J. Williams sacked Matt Moore to force a fumble and recovered it at the Miami 36. Three plays later, Matt Prater hit a 52-yard field goal.
“I’m trying to search for answers, and I just keep coming back to embarrassing,’’ Miami running back Reggie Bush said. “Everything about this loss today is embarrassing.’’
The Broncos (2-4) won for the first time in the eight games they’ve played on the Dolphins’ field. Miami (0-6) extended the NFL’s longest losing streak to nine games, leaving the status of embattled coach Tony Sparano even more tenuous.
“He’s the head coach and he’s going to take a lot of heat,’’ receiver Brandon Marshall said. “But trust me, it’s not him. Not just him. It’s all of us.’’
The Dolphins lost for the 12th time in their past 13 home games.
“Loss for words, really,’’ receiver Davone Bess said. “Unacceptable. Those kind of ballgames, you have to come out on top. You have to. And we didn’t - again.’’
Tebow started for the benched Kyle Orton, and for much of the game the Broncos sputtered. Tebow was sacked seven times as he struggled to identify blitzes, and several throws landed nowhere near a receiver.
As he walked to the sideline after one series stalled, spectators chanted his name in derision, and Dolphins players urged the crowd for more noise.
“You can’t lose confidence in yourself, or you’ve lost already,’’ Tebow said. “When you get knocked down, you’ve got to keep getting back up.’’
That’s what Tebow did. With the Broncos on the verge of being shut out for the first time since 1992, he led an eight-play touchdown drive that got them back in the game.
Matthew Willis’s 42-yard reception was a pivotal play, and Tebow threw a 5-yard scoring pass to Demaryius Thomas with 2:44 left to make the score 15-7.
Then came the onside kick. Marlon Moore, a receiver, leaped to catch the ball but bobbled it and the Broncos’ Virgil Green recovered at their 44 with 2:31 left.
Tebow’s strike to a diving Daniel Fells gained 28 yards to the 3. Two plays later, Tebow fooled the Dolphins by rolling left and throwing back to the right to Fells, who dived across the goal line for a 3-yard score with 17 seconds left.
Denver still needed a 2-point conversion to stay alive, and Tebow kept up the middle and the game moved to overtime.
Prater missed field goal attempts of 49 and 43 yards in regulation, but his kick with 7:24 left in OT gave Denver the win.
“It’s disappointing to see how our season is going,’’ Marshall said.
While the Broncos were two time zones from home, lots of fans wore Tebow jerseys, and the popular quarterback drew a big roar trotting onto the field for his first series. Tebow won a 2005 high school state championship and the 2008 national title with the Florida Gators in the same stadium.