- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Tim Tebow's last trip to New England didn't end very well.
His former team, the Broncos, fell 45-10 to the Patriots in the AFC divisional playoffs last January and the quarterback played through torn cartilage in his rib cage, a bruised lung and fluid buildup. Not a day he'll want to cherish.
"Losing. Wishing we had another shot," Tebow said of his recollections of that game. "Not too many good memories."
Tebow returns to New England in a much different capacity on Sunday as he and the Jets look to stay atop the AFC East. Instead of being the starting quarterback like he was last time against the Patriots, Tebow is the backup to Mark Sanchez and his playing time could range from a few snaps to something more significant.
"I feel like I learned a lot from that playoff game," Tebow said. "From how they played me in the regular season to how they played us in the playoffs, what they did against certain looks we gave them, how they've played other teams similar to how I play. I fee like I've learned a lot."
While the Jets and Patriots are rivals, Tebow actually has a good relationship with New England head coach Bill Belichick. During his years at Florida, Tebow would spend time with Belichick and his coaching staff in meetings during the offseason, and he also visited with the Patriots leading up to the draft. Tebow said he had good chemistry with the Patriots coach, but the Broncos ultimately selected Tebow near the end of the first round back in 2010.
Belichick has always been complimentary of Tebow, including some comments this week about him being a valuable asset for the Jets, and Tebow appreciates the respect he receivers from the Patriots head coach. Tebow went 0-2 as a starter last season against New England, completing 20-of-48 passes for 330 yards and running 17 times for 106 yards and two touchdowns in the losses.
"I feel like he's one of the best coaches in the game right now and probably go down as one of the best coaches ever," Tebow said. "When you look at what he's done in his tenure and the effect he's had on this league, it definitely means a lot for him to say nice things about me."
Tebow's Wildcat package was hyped coming into the year, but he has not been used that often this season thus far. He's rushed just 18 times for 64 yards and thrown only three passes, with some of those totals coming on special-teams fakes. It's safe to say his biggest effect has come on special teams so far.
That could potentially change Sunday. The Jets could be without two of their running backs as Bilal Powell will be out and Joe McKnight likely will miss the game, leaving the team with just two healthy running backs. While Tebow said he hasn't been used as a running back in practice, and it hasn't been discussed, it could possibly lead to getting some more carries in the game.
"I would be ready for whatever I would be asked to do," Tebow said.