Tebow better in game than at practice

August, 12, 2011
8/12/11
12:27
AM ET
Tim Tebow has always been known as a game-day performer. That’s been the book on him since his legendary days as the King of Gainesville while at college at Florida.

Thursday morning, while prepping for Thursday night’s game in Dallas (which the Cowboys won 24-23 in the final seconds), Tebow acknowledged that fact when he talked to ESPN’s Ed Werder.

[+] EnlargeDenver's Tim Tebow
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesTim Tebow completed 6 of 7 passes for 91 yards in the Broncos' preseason opener against Dallas.
"Now it's about playing real football and not the touch football we've been playing,” Tebow said. “Practice and meetings count, but there's extra credit when you get into game situations because that's how you're judged -- either you can score touchdowns or you can't; either you make good decisions for your team or you don't.''

It was as if Tebow was challenging himself to live up to his own standards during this time of mini-crisis. The game had always come easy for Tebow, but this summer has been rough. He hasn’t had a good training camp and he has fallen closer to third-string quarterback Brady Quinn than first-string quarterback Kyle Orton. Tebow's trials have become one of the hottest topics of NFL training camp.

However, Thursday night, Tebow lived up to his reputation as a better game-day player than a practice player. Playing with the second string, Tebow completed 6 of 7 pass attempts for 91 yards against Dallas. He completed his first five pass attempts. Denver scored two field goals on four drives with Tebow on the field.

His highlight was a 43-yard beauty to Matthew Willis. Tebow did have an interception overturned by a penalty and he had a dose of the happy feet at times. Tebow had a touchdown run nullified by a penalty and he had a 13-yard run.

In all, it was a good showing by the player who played the final three games of his rookie season. Still, Tebow’s performance against Dallas likely won’t help him bridge the gap between himself and Orton, who was pedestrian in limited duty Thursday night. But Tebow did show he can make some things happen when the lights are on.

However, Quinn didn’t do anything to hurt his cause as he tries to catch Tebow for the backup gig. Quinn completed 8 of 14 passes for 120 yards and he threw a touchdown pass.

Meanwhile, Denver running backs Knowshon Moreno and Willis McGahee both looked solid in limited roles. They had a combined 40 yards on six carries.

Defensively, new Denver coach John Fox -- a defensive specialist -- looks to be making a positive impact already. Dallas scored just three points in the first half and Denver’s first-unit defense held up well against the strong Dallas offense.

Dallas won the game in the final minute with a touchdown pass on fourth down and by converting the ensuing two-point conversion. Thus, Denver was betrayed by a group of players who will all likely be cut in the next few weeks.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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