The Denver Post, Tim Rasmussen) MAGS OUT TV OUT, Associated Press
DENVER — Tim Tebow's legs did what Mark Sanchez's arm failed to do — deliver a win.
Tebow, the unorthodox quarterback, ran in the winning touchdown with 58 seconds remaining and Sanchez, the prototypical passer, threw a costly interception that was returned for a score as the Denver Broncos rallied to beat the New York Jets 17-13 on Thursday night.
The Broncos (5-5) are 4-1 since Tebow replaced Kyle Orton, while the Jets (5-5) dropped their second straight.
"It's embarrassing play on my part," said Sanchez, who finished 24 of 40 for 252 yards. "It's not a winning formula. I hurt the team and lost the game."
Pinned deep in his own territory, Tebow methodically led the Broncos on a 95-yard winning drive. He capped it off by eluding safety Eric Smith around the left edge, cutting back and powering his way past other Jets for a 20-yard TD.
That's become vintage Tebow, especially in this offense which is customized just for him.
"I thought we did a tremendous job on defense, trying to come up with a way to defend their multiple offense and all the things they present," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. "People can laugh about this or whatever. This is a hard offense to defend."
Ryan won't get any arguments from Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis.
"Tim Tebow's legs took them to victory, ran them to victory," Revis said.
The Jets took a 10-3 lead in the third quarter when offensive lineman Matt Slauson fell on a fumble in the end zone.
Slauson, who attended high school down the road in Colorado Springs, happened to be standing in the right place at the proper time after the Broncos jarred the ball out of tailback Bilal Powell's hands.
With the ball rolling between the legs of the linemen, Slauson pounced on it and tumbled into the end zone, much to the surprise of everyone on the field and in the stands.
Under another scenario, Slauson would've been pleased with his achievement.
After all, Slauson became the first Jets offensive lineman to score a TD in that fashion since Randy Rasmussen did it against the Miami Dolphins on Oct. 8, 1972.
"Unfortunately, it doesn't mean anything now. I wish it would've," he said.
That's because the lead was short-lived.
Sanchez was having a sizzling second half before he tried to force a pass to Plaxico Burress. Reading the play all the way, Andre Goodman stepped in front of the throw and easily sauntered into the end zone for a 26-yard TD.
"The guy made a pretty good play on it, but he's not open, Plax wasn't open," Sanchez said. "Shouldn't have thrown it. I put our defense in a tough spot."
Nick Folk then connected on a 45-yard field goal with 9:14 remaining to give the Jets the lead — and set the stage for Tebow's comeback.
"He's just a competitive dude," Broncos coach John Fox said. "He's super competitive."
Shonn Greene was going to receive a bulk of the carries with LaDainian Tomlinson (left knee) out of action, but Greene injured his ribs in the first quarter and didn't return. Joe McKnight filled in for him, gaining 59 yards on 16 carries.
Willis McGahee returned to the backfield after he tweaked his left hamstring Sunday at Kansas City and was limited in practice. McGahee, the team's leading rusher, split time with Lance Ball and Jeremiah Johnson, who was promoted from the practice squad this week to replace Knowshon Moreno after former first-round pick tore his right ACL against the Chiefs.
The Broncos have built their offense around Tebow, turning to an option scheme that has the look of what he ran at Florida that to made him one of the best combination quarterbacks in NCAA history.
This particular style is giving defensive coordinators fits, too.
In back-to-back wins at Oakland and Kansas City, Tebow guided an offense that ran the ball 93 times and threw it just 30. The Broncos gained 543 yards on the ground and 182 through the air.
Relying on this unconventional style led by an unorthodox quarterback, Denver has suddenly surged back into contention in the mediocre AFC West.
This unique style also kept one of the Jets' top playmakers, Revis, on the outside peering in. Revis couldn't afford to collapse on the option, just in case Tebow pulled it out of the tailback's belly and fires a pass to the outside.
"The only thing I can say is (Tebow) ran the offense the best way he could," Revis said. "They ended up driving on us. He did it. Tim Tebow did it. He shocked me, probably shocked a lot of people."
Notes: Folk connected on 21- and 45-yard field goals for the Jets. He also missed two from long range — a 52-yarder that sailed left late in the first quarter and a 61-yard attempt just before half was short and just left. ... After sacking Sanchez 1.5 times Thursday, Broncos rookie LB Von Miller has 9.5 sacks this season. He needs two more to tie Rulon Jones for the team's rookie record.
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