Regardless of what happens this weekend, if he doesn't end up making the team Tim Tebow at least finished the exhibition season on a high note.
The embattled quarterback has had a rough preseason, although Thursday night was far and away his best performance after sitting out last week's debacle in Detroit. He finished last night's contest 6-of-11 for 91 yards and threw two touchdown passes, the last of which came with ten seconds to go in the game and was his second to rookie receiver Quentin Sims.
It was far from perfect, but it was certainly encouraging considering what we saw two weeks ago against the Buccaneers when he finished 1-of-7 for -1 yards with an interception. Early on he was battling poor protection up front where the Giants basically came on a jailbreak on each play, and they sacked him twice in each of his first two possessions.
Fortunately the Patriots offense eventually got some of those issues worked out, but there were moments last night where it was Tebow's athleticism that helped lead to some of the plays they were able to make.
He also made a couple of good throws, including the 52 yard touchdown pass play to Quentin Sims which came on a 3rd down pass he fired on the money across the middle, and Sims made a great catch and broke away and scored.
He actually finished the night a perfect 2-of-2 on 3rd down passing, and definitely looked a little more confident out there. On the first touchdown Ryan Mallett was visually fired up on the sidelines, and said after the game that Tebow made a great throw.
“Those are my teammates," Mallett told the media after the game. "You know, Quentin made a great catch and then made a great run. Tim, you know, he had the ‘boo birds’ out the play before, and then he comes back and throws a touchdown, it just shows what kind of player he is, his character. It was a great throw and a great play overall.”
Overall this preseason Tebow finished 11-of-30 (37% completion rate) for 145 yards and his two touchdowns, as well as two interceptions. One of those came last night on a ball that was badly underthrown to Aaron Dobson, who was behind his man and had a chance to potentially make a big play. Instead Tebow didn't get the ball outside enough, although Dobson could have done more to try and prevent it.
Looking back at his entire body of work, one thing that stood out was the number failed attempts on 2nd down throwing the ball. Tebow finished 4-of-14 (29% completion rate) along with two sacks. That generally makes third down even more difficult, and that was certainly the case. Of the 18 third downs Tebow faced, they were in 3rd-and-8 or worse on 12 of them, including 9 from 10 yards or more. That obviously explains why he converted just four of them - although one of those conversions was a touchdown because the league scores a touchdown as a 'first down'.
Tebow told the Boston Herald after the game that he feels he has improved this preseason.
“I think I’ve improved in a lot of ways,” Tebow said. “One, learning this offense. Two, understanding more of the decision making, getting the rhythm, understanding all the guys that I’m playing with and just getting this offense down as well.”
Whatever happens now is out of his hands, but at least he put together an effort that might have been convincing enough to make the coaching staff believe that he won't always be what he showed during his first two outings. The team will soon cut down to 53 players in preparation of the regular season, and as usual Bill Belichick said it will come down to who will help his team win this season.
“Whoever we keep, it will be because of the value they bring to the team,” said Belichick.
We'll have to wait and see if he feels Tebow fits that category.