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Denver at Minnesota

Broncos, Tebow again stage late drama

CBSSports.com wire reports

MINNEAPOLIS -- Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos came through again with a strong, determined finish after enduring another slow start.

This time, Tebow was in a groove the entire second half -- not just in the waning minutes -- and his teammates on defense were getting gobbled up. But there they were in the end, emulating Tebow's late-game touch.

Tebow passed for a season-best 202 yards and two third-quarter touchdowns to help the unflappable Broncos win their fifth straight game, 35-32 over the Minnesota Vikings Sunday on Matt Prater's 23-yard field goal as time expired.

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"I know that I had a lot of help. Offensive line did a great job, and receivers stepped up and made me look a lot better than I really am," said Tebow, who completed 10 of 15 passes, his best percentage as an NFL starter, and posted a career-high passer rating of 149.3.

Prater kicked two field goals in the final 93 seconds for the Broncos (7-5), who forged a first-place tie in the AFC West with a loss by the Oakland Raiders. Christian Ponder set Minnesota's single-game rookie record with 381 yards passing, including a pair of long touchdowns to Percy Harvin, but his sideline throw with 1:33 remaining was intercepted by Andre Goodman and returned to the 15-yard line.

Lance Ball's first-down run for 11 yards made it first-and-goal at the 4 with 1:12 remaining, but the Vikings decided against letting them score right away and took their chances with a shank or a block instead. But the Broncos drained the clock for Prater's winner and raised their record to 6-1 with Tebow as the starter.

"Hard to argue. That guy wins games," Ponder said.

Harvin had a career-high 156 yards for the Vikings (2-10), who lost their fourth in a row.

"Too many times this year we've had leads and then had letdowns or missed assignments," Harvin said. "It's another game we feel we had control of, and to somehow let it slip away, that's disgusting."

CBSSports.com Grades
Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos
The Broncos extended their road-game winning streak to five with another display of Tim Tebow magic. Trailing at halftime, Tebow led his team to another comeback victory, this time with his arm rather than his feet. With Willis McGahee gashing the Vikings on the ground, Tebow threw two second-half touchdown passes for the 35-32 win.
Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings
The depleted and beaten up Vikings battled the Broncos all afternoon in search of their third win, but two early QB Christian Ponder turnovers (plus a big one late) and the inability to stop RB Willis MaGahee were too much to overcome. Ponder's first 300-yard game (381 yards) was not enough to slow the red-hot Broncos.
By Joe Oberle
RapidReports Correspondent

In seven games with Tebow, the Broncos offense has 30 first-half points. They were blanked in this one, on the board only because of Mario Haggan's 16-yard interception return for a first-quarter score. Tebow's third turnover of the season, a sack by Jared Allen that forced a fumble with 39 seconds left before halftime, gave the Vikings three free points.

But they can't be counted out. Whether their unconventional quarterback is trying to complete a down-field pass or if they're flirting again with defeat, the Broncos haven't flinched.

"There were a lot of questions on the outside. Sometimes it gets built up like they were on the inside, but the one thing I will say is the guy wins," coach John Fox said. "He does it with his feet. He does it with his arm. He's young. He's just going to get better."

Harvin, a fellow former Florida star, said he was worried once Tebow got the ball late in the game.

"I was sure enough hoping we were going to get him, but I've been on his teams," Harvin said, adding: "He's a winner. He's a leader. All of the things you hear about, you may think it's too much, but that's what he is."

After serving as the backbone of Denver's resurgence, putting Tebow in position for all of those rallies, the Broncos gave up 489 yards. Toby Gerhart gained 91 yards on 21 carries. But they picked off Ponder twice, recovered his fumble and applied enough pressure to equalize the game.

"It's been fun, a fun ride," Haggan said. "This team is close, believes, has a lot of character, but we're not done."

Demaryius Thomas caught four passes for 144 yards and both touchdowns for the Broncos, who have won four games with Tebow by either four or three points. Thomas was wide open twice, with the coverage by Minnesota's depleted secondary breaking down often, but Tebow had to find him. Pushed out of the pocket with no one open, he ran left and delivered on on-target across-his-body throw to Thomas, who ran the rest of the way and dragged a couple of defenders into the end zone for a 41-yard score that cut the Minnesota lead to 22-21 late in the third.

"We put in a lot of work," Thomas said. "It's paid off. It's about that time."

During a dizzying display of back-and-forth touchdowns, with both Ponder and Tebow putting together their best games as pros. Ryan Longwell's third field goal, with 3:06 left, made it 32-29 Vikings, teeing another one up for Tebow.

He threw a wobbler that still landed on target, when Thomas hauled in a 40-yard completion. Thomas couldn't bring in the third-down pass at the goal line, but Prater tied the game with a 46-yarder before Ponder's second glaring mistake.

Harvin's second score, a 48-yard catch and run, was the first fourth-quarter touchdown given up by the Broncos in five games and made it 29-21 Minnesota. They averaged 15 points allowed over their previous four games.

But there went the Broncos again. Tebow hit Thomas for 42 yards, and Willis McGahee rumbled into the end zone from 24 yards out. Then Tebow took the snap on the 2-point conversion and rolled to his right and over the goal line to tie the game at 29.

Except for that play, he looked more like pocket passer on this afternoon, running only four times.

"It's crazy. Just try to do whatever they ask of me," Tebow said.

  • Haggan, a ninth-year veteran who started in place of injured LB Von Miller, came up with the first interception of his career. He also led the team with 12 tackles, three for losses.
  • Tebow's NFL career high is 308 yards passing, against Houston on Dec. 26, 2010.
  • Allen tied an NFL record with his fourth career safety, stopping McGahee in the end zone on the Broncos' first play. McGahee had 111 yards on 20 attempts..
  • All three replay reviews, including a TD pass to Kyle Rudolph, went in favor of the Vikings..
Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Expectations for the Broncos
Sun. Dec. 4Final
Pass: T. Tebow (10-15, 202) C. Ponder (29-47, 381)
Rush: W. McGahee (20-111) T. Gerhart (21-91)
Rec: D. Thomas (4-144) P. Harvin (8-156)
Scoring Summary
SAFETYJared Allen, 12:39.
TDMario Haggan, 16 Yd interception return (Matt Prater kick is good), 5:42.
FGRyan Longwell, 40 Yd, 1:24. Drive: 6 plays, 14 yards in 2:21.
TDKyle Rudolph, 19 Yd pass from Christian Ponder (Ryan Longwell kick is good), 3:33. Drive: 12 plays, 96 yards in 5:57.
FGRyan Longwell, 25 Yd, 0:00. Drive: 4 plays, 15 yards in 0:39.
TDDemaryius Thomas, 21 Yd pass from Tim Tebow (Matt Prater kick is good), 11:18. Drive: 9 plays, 78 yards in 3:42.
TDPercy Harvin, 52 Yd pass from Christian Ponder (Ryan Longwell kick is good), 3:12. Drive: 6 plays, 85 yards in 3:23.
TDDemaryius Thomas, 41 Yd pass from Tim Tebow (Matt Prater kick is good), 2:48. Drive: 1 play, 41 yards in 0:24.
TDPercy Harvin, 48 Yd pass from Christian Ponder (Ryan Longwell kick is good), 9:41. Drive: 4 plays, 77 yards in 1:36.
TDWillis McGahee, 24 Yd run (Tim Tebow Run for 2 Pt. Conversion), 8:52. Drive: 2 plays, 66 yards in 0:49.
FGRyan Longwell, 39 Yd, 3:06. Drive: 13 plays, 59 yards in 5:46.
FGMatt Prater, 46 Yd, 1:33. Drive: 7 plays, 52 yards in 1:33.
FGMatt Prater, 23 Yd, 0:00. Drive: 6 plays, 10 yards in 1:25.
Players of the Game

P. Harvin
Rec 8
Yds 156
Avg 19.5
TD 2

D. Thomas
Rec 4
Yds 144
Avg 36.0
TD 2
T. Tebow10/1520220
W. McGahee20111124
L. Ball725011
T. Tebow41307
S. Larsen1101
D. Thomas4144242
E. Decker225017
L. Ball21408
M. Willis112012
E. Royal1707
C. Ponder29/4738132
J. Webb1/1800
T. Gerhart2191016
P. Harvin519013
C. Ponder112012
J. Webb1404
L. Booker2306
P. Harvin8156252
D. Aromashodu690020
T. Gerhart842014
S. Burton238021
V. Shiancoe436012
K. Rudolph119119
L. Booker1808
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
PHI 14 Final
SEA 31
TEN 23 Final
BUF 17
KC 10 Final
BAL 24 Final
CLE 10
ATL 10 Final
HOU 17
OAK 14 Final
MIA 34
DET 17 Final
NO 31
CIN 7 Final
PIT 35
CAR 38 Final
TB 19
NYJ 34 Final
WAS 19
DAL 13 Final
ARI 19
GB 38 Final
NYG 35
STL 0 Final
SF 26
IND 24 Final
NE 31
SD 38 Final
JAC 14