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08/12/2011 1:02 AM EDT
Tebow scrambles for naught; McGee rescues Dallas
DALLAS 24, DENVER 23
By JAIME ARON
AP Pro Football Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Tim Tebow scrambled far to his left,
inches from the sideline, saw some resistance and headed back
the other way. He was around the middle of the field when he
decided to pass, lobbing the ball over a defender to a waiting
teammate, who took off toward the end zone.
It could've been the latest addition to Tebow's legacy - if only
he hadn't gone a full stride over the line of scrimmage, a
lineman hadn't illegally down the field and another teammate
hadn't clobbered someone in the back.
Instead, by the end of it, even one of the officials was
Tebow's schoolyard play came just before halftime and stood as
the play of the game, until Dallas' Stephen McGee threw a
13-yard touchdown pass and a two-point conversion with 15
seconds left, giving the Cowboys a 24-23 victory over the
Broncos on Thursday night.
McGee, an option quarterback in college just like Tebow, showed
the moxie he displayed in two quality outings at the end of last
season. He finished 14 of 24 for 208 yards, with three
touchdowns, plus ran four times for 25 yards.
"It's always fun to win no matter how it comes," McGee said.
"For me, this is my regular season."
Tebow's numbers were good. He completed 6 of 7 passes for 91
yards. He also ran twice for 15 yards, producing a pair of field
goals in four drives.
His first scoring series started at Denver's 10 and included a
43-yard pass perfectly lofted into double coverage. The other
drive, however, started 7 yards from the end zone and wound up
moving backward, with a holding penalty wiping out his touchdown
run on first down, then the bizarre play coming on third down.
"I tried to scramble and one thing turned into another," Tebow
Dallas declined all three penalties to force the Broncos to kick
a field goal. When Tebow went to the sideline, new Denver coach
John Fox spoke to him gently, patting him on the head at the end
of the chat.
"Tim is a work in progress," Fox said. "He made some things
happen and he is learning. ... The M.O. on him when I got here
is that he does ad-lib some. You don't ever want to take that
away from a player. He is a young player that I think is going
to get better in time."
In other words, he didn't likely do much to unseat veteran Kyle
Orton as the starter, not with Fox saying, "I though Kyle was
sharp," even though he completed only 2 of 6 passes for 37
yards, with three straight incompletions after reaching the
Tebow felt good about his performance. His only lament was not
getting into the end zone.
"I feel a lot more confident in my decision making, my
fundamentals and going out there and running the offense," he
said. "It's picking and choosing your battles and being smart
One other play that stood out was Tebow bobbling a snap, ducking
to avoid a blow by Dallas linebacker Victor Butler, then being
pulled down by the next defender to arrive, Clifton Geathers.
Tebow got to know Butler and defensive lineman Jason Hatcher, as
they seemed to be in his face almost every play.
Hatcher and Butler both came away impressed by Tebow's strength.
"He messed up my sack," Butler said. "I'll have to hit him on
Twitter and tell him about it. ... Some of his throws were on
and some of his throws were off. Sometimes you have to equate
that to pressure. When you have somebody hitting you in the back
or coming straight at your face, your throws are going to be
Brady Quinn - who is probably Tebow's real competition, for the
main backup slot - was 8 of 14 for 120 yards and an 8-yard
touchdown to Eron Riley. Denver also got a 13-yard TD run from
Jeremiah Johnson with Quinn going against Dallas' reserves.
Tony Romo played in his first game for Dallas since breaking his
collarbone in the sixth game last season. He completed his first
three passes - the first to Chris Gronkowski, the fullback whose
missed block led to Romo's injury - and finished 3 of 5 for 33
yards. The Cowboys scored a field goal on his only series.
"It got my juices flowing a little bit," Romo said. "It was
good, and I'm looking forward to my next opportunity."
After Jon Kitna got in for a series, Dallas coach Jason Garrett
- who was in charge of a preseason game for the first time -
turned things over to McGee, the third-stringer who won the
finale last season.
McGee hit Raymond Radway for a 13-yard, threw a short pass that
Dwayne Harris turned into a 76-yarder and found Harris again for
the score that made it 23-22. Instead of kicking an extra point
and possible facing overtime, Dallas went for the win and McGee
came through by hitting Martin Rucker on the conversion.
"We weren't exactly moving the ball up and down the field on
offense, but Stephen hung in there," Garrett said. "He is able
to keep plays alive because he moves so well. At the end of the
game to string some positive plays together . was pretty darn
good by him."
The best news for both teams was no serious injuries, and none
For Denver, receiver Mark Dell sprained a knee, and offensive
lineman Stanley Daniels sprained an ankle. Dallas safeties Danny
McCray (shoulder) and Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (wind knocked out) are
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