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Was Tim Tebow terrific or terrible?

By Arnie Stapleton

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 21 2010 10:28 a.m. MST

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (15) breaks away from Oakland Raiders safety Michael Huff (24) to score a touchdown in the first quarter of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 19, 2010.

Marcio Jose Sanchez, Associated Press

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Tim Tebow either demonstrated he wasn't ready for the NFL or provided glimpses of greatness in his first NFL start.

It's all in the eye of the beholder: Denver's rookie quarterback was either Tim Terrific or Tim Terrible in his debut last weekend in Oakland. The truth is probably smack dab in the middle.

The Tebow haters found plenty of flaws in his game: his measly total of eight completions in a paltry 16 pass attempts and a pitiful 2-for-7 performance out of the shotgun, in manageable down and distances no less. They point to his 2-for-12 third-down conversion rate.

Tebow fans loved his 40-yard touchdown jaunt — the longest by an NFL quarterback in his first career start — and learning that he was supposed to hand the ball off to Correll Buckhalter on the third-and-24 play only added to the amazement.

And they adored his 33-yard touchdown pass that went through a defensive back's hands before settling into Brandon Lloyd's hands as he tumbled out of the end zone.

Another of his passes was dropped by running back Lance Ball in the end zone, although Tebow was a tad late delivering the ball.

Tebow is probably more realistic than either faction, saying there was some good and some bad in his debut, plenty to be proud of but lots of work to do.

"I think I did OK," he said after throwing for 138 yards and running eight times for 78 yards in Denver's 39-23 loss to the Raiders. "We did some things well, some things I have to get better at. We didn't have any turnovers offensively so that always gives you a better chance.

"We just have to execute a little better on third down. Honestly, I have to go back and look at the film to know everything. But just be crisper, quicker and better with my reads."

Tebow's 100.5 passer rating was the highest in team history for a pro debut and the highest among the NFL's seven rookie quarterbacks who have debuted this season.

The Raiders were impressed by the former Florida star who was stunningly selected in the first round of the draft by former Broncos coach Josh McDaniels.

"People said he couldn't be an NFL quarterback but he made some good throws, he had some good runs," linebacker Quentin Groves said. "He does what suits him best and that's what it is."

And what best suits him right now is passing prudently and running a bunch.

But the big question about Tebow is can he run like he did in college and survive in the pros? He'll have to become more of a pocket passer, and to do that, he'll have to refine his footwork and his throwing mechanics, two things he's spent countless hours on.

"I thought he played well," Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said. "He ran the ball well like we knew he would. I thought he threw well. The passes he was throwing, they were on the money for the most part. So I think he did OK."

Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly said Tebow made the most of the conservative calls.

"You could tell their game plan was specifically for his skill set. They didn't want to put him in too much trouble, a lot of drop-back passes," Kelly said. "They put him in a lot of boot situations where he could use his athletic ability and he did a very good job."

Broncos interim coach Eric Studesville, who has already declared Tebow his starter for Sunday when the Houston Texans (5-9) visit Denver (3-11), praised his quarterback's play and poise.

"He did a lot of the things that we always thought he could do. He made plays scrambling and running the ball on the long draw play. He threw the ball, even though we didn't throw it a whole lot of times, he did make some nice throws and completions that we needed," Studesville said.

"And I think his management of the game, getting us in and out of things, handling that environment is not an easy thing. When those fans get cranked up there in Oakland, it's a difficult environment and we thought he handled that well. His energy was unbelievable that he brought to the sidelines."

The Broncos don't figure to be quite as conservative in their play calling with Tebow against the Texans.

"We're finding more and more out about what he does," Studesville said. "That game gave us a lot of information. And a lot of things that we can work with and go from and a lot of things that we can build on."

AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow contributed.

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