Tim Tebow wasn’t on one knee in prayer this time. He was on the ground in misery.
Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril (92) causes Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (15) to fumble during the first quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011, in Denver. Tebow recovered the ball on the play. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
The Detroit Lions (6-2) sacked Tebow seven times and turned his two turnovers into touchdowns as they snapped a two-game skid with a 45-10 victory over the Denver Broncos.
Matthew Stafford hardly showed any ill effects from a sprained right ankle sustained a week earlier, throwing for three touchdowns before leaving with a clean jersey in the fourth quarter.
“It’s kind of a competition to see who’s going to have a better day,” Stafford said. “They’re scoring points on defense, we’re trying to light up the scoreboard. That’s when we’re at our best.”
The Broncos (2-5) were at their worst as Tebow followed his Miami miracle with a dud in Denver.
Cornerback Chris Houston had the fourth 100-yard interception return in team history and defensive end Cliff Avril got a sack, strip and scoop, rumbling 24 yards into the end zone with the fumbled football as part of Detroit’s 45-point run after the Broncos took a 3-0 lead on their first drive.
“We did an excellent job getting to Tebow and speeding up his clock,” Ndamukong Suh said.
Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch celebrated his sack of Tebow by joining the “Tebowing” craze, striking a prayerful pose near the prone second-year quarterback in the first half.
“I figured I’d get to him a couple of times this game and had an opportunity to get it in,” Tulloch said. “It was a little fun, man. No disrespect to Tebow. I was just doing a little ‘Tebowing.’ It’s fun when you go out there and get after it like we did.”
Tebow started the phenomenon that went viral last week by dropping to a knee after his dazzling comeback, rallying the Broncos back from a 15-0 deficit in the final three minutes to pull out an 18-15 win.
There was no let-up by the Lions, who relished in their taunts of Tebow, who has been sacked 13 times in his two starts since supplanting Kyle Orton after a 1-4 start.
“We’ll bounce back and have a great week of practice and get ready to go try and get a win next week,” Tebow said.
But will he still be under center?
Broncos coach John Fox seemed to leave open the possibility of another quarterback change after this debacle.
“It’s too early to say. I haven’t even taken a shower yet, let alone look at the tape,” Fox said when asked who would be his quarterback next weekend. “But we’ll look at it and make changes where we see are needed. We’ve definitely got to get better.”
Champ Bailey sounded the alarm in the locker room, saying “at the end of the day, you’ve got to win.”
“People are probably going to be more patient with him than any other quarterback,” Bailey said, “but everybody in this locker room knows you’ve got to win games.”
Tebow knew nothing of his starting status Nov. 6 against Oakland.
“I’m just going to get up early and go to work and try to get better tomorrow and consistently improve and be the best person-slash-quarterback for this organization,” Tebow said.
Tight end Tony Scheffler performed a scaled-down version of the Tebow impersonation after catching a 1-yard TD pass against his former team in the second quarter.
Scheffler faked the spike, acted like he was going to kneel and put his right hand on his forehead a la Tebow, then spun around and exchanged the “Mile High Salute” with teammate Calvin Johnson instead.
“It’s one of those things where you’re so amped up, especially being back kind of where it all started for me,” Scheffler said. “I was amped up just doing whatever came into my head. It was fun.”
Bailey wasn’t bothered a bit by the Lions’ frivolities.
“I hate when people cry about showing them up,” Bailey said. “So what? Stop ’em. Plain and simple.”
Stafford completed 21 of 30 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns, including a 56-yarder to Johnson, who joined Randy Moss as the only wide receivers since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to catch 11 TD passes in his team’s first eight games.
Stafford also threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Titus Young for Detroit’s first score.
After Eric Decker failed to get both feet down on a 21-yard toss into the end zone on Denver’s first drive, the Broncos settled for a field goal. Denver gained just 32 yards on its next 22 snaps before trudging into the locker room down 24-3.
Decker’s 14-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter ended Detroit’s 45-0 run. By then, even most of the fans decked out in No. 15 Tebow jerseys were streaming through the exits.
Tebow finished 18 for 39 for 172 yards.
“He’s a young player, he’s got a lot to learn,” Tulloch said. “He’s a winner. He finds a way to win.”
He couldn’t find a way to pull this one out, though, not after the Lions scored their most points on the road since a 45-point outburst at San Francisco on Oct. 29, 1967.
“He just needs to clean up some things in his pass game,” Tulloch said. “That takes time. We had a good game plan. You’ve got to realize we’ve got a good front seven here. So, for his second start this season coming against us, it’s kind of rough for him.”
Notes: Suh will meet with the NFL on Tuesday to talk about all the penalties he’s been called for this season. … Broncos S Quinton Carter (concussion), RT Orlando Franklin (groin) and DB Cassius Vaughn (hamstring) were hurt.
SOURCE: The Associated Press
Arnie Melendrez Stapleton