Tim Tebow wasn't perfect Sunday, but he was good enough to almost pull off the comeback. (AP)
Chargers 29, Broncos 24 (Box Score | Recap)
Broncos coach John Fox fought off a quarterback controversy for as long as he could, committing to Kyle Orton and burying Tim Tebow on the bench.
That all changed Sunday, with Denver's offense flailing in the first half against San Diego -- Orton mustered just three points (the Broncos' defense added a touchdown) and 34 yards passing in two quarters. So, Fox turned to Tebow.
And give the kid this: He's exciting to watch.
Tebow completed just 4 of 10 passes in the second half and it's hard to say any of them were the result of terrific QB play. He hit Eric Decker for no gain, threw a screen pass to Knowshon Moreno that Moreno turned into a 28-yard TD, needed Brandon Lloyd to make a ridiculous one-handed grab for a 20-yard gain on the game's final drive, then threw to a wide-open Daniel Fells down the middle with San Diego in a deep prevent defense.
It was nothing spectacular and, at times, was quite the opposite.
Still, after trailing 26-10, here was Tebow with one second left and one play from San Diego's 29, his team down five.
For whatever reason, Tebow absolutely energizes the frustrated Denver fan base -- fed up with Orton after a 1-3 start, which turned into 1-4 Sunday, as Tebow's last-gasp effort fell incomplete in the end zone. Tebow also seems to give the entire Denver team a spark.
That's not meant as a knock on Orton, whose stats are decent in two-plus years as Denver's QB. But the Broncos finished 8-8 in his first year with the team, 4-12 last year and are en route to another sub-.500 season.
So, maybe it's time for Tebow to get a real shot.
He's still far from an elite NFL passer, as Sunday showed. But he ran for 38 yards and a 12-yard TD against San Diego's defense, his natural athletic ability again proving to be his best on-field trait.
On that note, it's kind of hard to figure why Fox refused to use him in this fashion earlier. Stick with Orton all you want as your passing QB, but it wouldn't have hurt to run Tebow on the field for 5-10 snaps a game as a change-of-pace option. Whether or not he's an every-down NFL quarterback, Tebow still brings some unique things to the table.
And now, the Broncos head into a bye week with a big decision to make.
Given how Sunday's game ended, with Denver rallying for 14 points in front of a thrilled home crowd, it would be hard to see Fox turning back to Orton for a Week 7 game at Miami.
Is there a happy medium there? If Tebow can't throw and Orton can't consistently move the offense, maybe Fox finally can find a way to utilize them both.
Tebow earned himself another shot with his performance Sunday. Whether that comes as the full-time guy in Denver's next game or as part of a gradual progression over the rest of this season is up to Fox.
The only thing we can be sure about at the moment is that Fox cannot ignore Tebow any longer.