Moment Number 4: Humanizing Tebow
The name “Tim Tebow” will forever be etched into football lore, despite the fact that he is a mediocre quarterback at best. “Tebow-mania” is a direct result of ESPN’s love affair with the polarizing quarterback, combined with the nation’s religious fanatics ironically idolizing him and refusing to see him as anything less than a deity.
In spite of Tebow’s flaws, the Denver Broncos found a way to win week after week, largely due to a strong running game, an over-achieving defense, and a clutch kicker (let’s not forget Marion Barber as well). As Tebow-mania swept the nation, and the likes of ESPN’s Skip Bayless began applying every double standard possible to excuse the quarterback’s poor play, it became impossible not to thank the heavens that the Detroit Lions did not contribute to the madness.
Week 8 of the NFL season had the Lions heading into Denver following two consecutive losses, their first defeats of the season. Tim Tebow had supplanted Kyle Orton as the Broncos starting quarterback one week prior, and pandemonium had already swept the nation. The Lions apparently didn’t get that memo, as they rolled the Broncos 45-10 behind a stellar defensive performance. Tebow was a mere 18 of 39 through the air for 172 yards, one touchdown, one interception, and a 56.8 quarterback rating. The Lion defense was in the backfield constantly, amassing seven sacks, and forcing Tebow to turn the ball over three times. The Bronco defense wasn’t able to bail out their quarterback in this contest, as a scorching hot Matthew Stafford torched the Bronco secondary for 267 yards and three scores, en route to a stellar 130.8 quarterback rating. A striking contrast to the performance of his counterpart.
Tony Scheffler was able to exact some measure of revenge on his former team by reaching the end zone and performing one of his inexplicable touchdown celebrations. But arguably the season’s most memorable image was that of Stephen Tulloch “Tebowing” after sacking the Bronco signal-caller in the first quarter. This was fitting of the in-your-face brand of football that the Lions displayed during the 2011 season, and Tulloch’s celebration was a favorite moment for Lions fans, as well as Tebow haters nationwide.
The victory over the Broncos was a difficult one to place on this list because at the time, it was just a much needed win for a reeling Lion team. As the weeks wore on, however, and the Broncos winning streak took shape, this victory became increasingly important for every Lion fan. Not only due to the impact on Detroit’s playoff hopes, or the confidence boost provided by a dominant road victory; but it made “Tebow-mania” that much easier to swallow, and it made that lasting image of Stephen Tulloch “Tebowing” even more iconic.
Moment Number 5: Lions defense causes Tony Romo meltdown