Chicago Cubs

Tebow shocks Jets with last minute heroics

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Tebow shocks Jets with last minute heroics

From Comcast SportsNet

DENVER (AP)The New York Jets lost containment just once, and Tim Tebow made them pay dearly.

Tebows 20-yard touchdown run with under a minute left capped a 95-yard drive and sent the surging Denver Broncos to a 17-13 victory over the stunned Jets on Thursday night.

Its hard to explain, wide receiver Eric Decker(notes) said. I always say its that It factor. You either got it or you dont. Its almost magical, to come in on that last drive of the game and to do the things that hes done to win a game. Its pretty special.

The Broncos had punted on their eight previous possessions when they got the ball with less than 6 minutes and so far to go. Tebow had just 11 yards on two carries to that point but would tuck it six times for 58 and hit three passes on the dramatic drive.

We played them well, through the whole game, until that last play, Darrelle Revis said.

On third-and-4 from their own 20 and under a minute left, the Jets dialed up their first all-out blitz of the night. Tebow took the snap from the shotgun, read the blitz and outflanked safety Eric Smith around the left edge, then raced into the end zone.

He shocked me, Revis said, probably shocked a lot of people.

Not Jets coach Rex Ryan.

You know hes going to keep it in that situation. Thats what he does. You keep the ball in your playmakers hand, Ryan said. We thought he was going to carry the ball and he didnt disappoint us. But he ran for a touchdown. The kids a competitor and makes big plays with the game on the line.

Both teams are 5-5, but the Jets are reeling from two losses in four nights, dimming their playoff hopes, and the Broncos are rejoicing after climbing within a-half game of the AFC West-leading Oakland Raiders.

Denver is 4-1 since Tebow replaced Kyle Orton, who was 1-4.

Hes a competitive dude, Broncos coach John Fox said. Hes super competitive. He never lays his sword down. Hell fight you to the death. Thats just his nature. Hes a great young man.

If not a great passer. By completing 9 of 20, he still hasnt topped 50 percent in any of his starts and his completion percentage is a paltry 44.8.

Not that it matters muchTebow has four second-half comebacks in his eight NFL starts, including three in the last month, and hes starting to earn a reputation like his boss, John Elway, Denvers original Comeback Kid.

Thats why I wanted to be a quarterback since I was 6 years old, watching guys like John Elway and Steve Young have game-winning drives, Tebow said.

Mark Sanchez has built his own reputation for comebacksseven in the fourth quarter or overtime since Week 6 of last season, tops in the NFL. But he couldnt engineer another on this night.

I let the defense down, however you want to phrase it. Its just an embarrassing day for me, said Sanchez, who was sacked three times, watched a snap sail over his head for a 24-yard loss and threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.

Still, the Broncos had fallen behind 13-10 on Nick Folks 45-yard field goal with about nine minutes left, and they faced a daunting task when they got the ball back for the last time with 5:54 remaining in the shadow of their own goal line.

Theyd been stopped on downs once, kicked a field goal, lost a fumble and punted eight straight times.

Jim Leonhard nearly quashed Denvers winning drive on the first play when he wrapped up Eddie Royal in the end zone on a throw to the right flat, but Royal wiggled free for 8 yards from the safety.

Tebow ran the two-minute, spread offense to perfection, reminiscent of his miracle in Miami, when he was ineffective for 55 minutes, then led the Broncos to two TDs in the final 5 minutes of a game Denver won in overtime.

I hope he shut up a whole bunch of critics today, said teammate Von Miller.

The debate across the NFL is whether the option is sustainable? After all, when Elway joined the teams front office this year, he said Tebow had to become a pocket passer to make it in this league.

After a debacle against Detroit, three weeks ago, the Broncos decided to mold their offense to Tebows unique skill set, reintroducing the option into the NFL, the system that Tebow perfected at Florida.

I want to run whatevers going to work, Tebow said, disputing the notion advanced by Hall of Famer and TV broadcaster Steve Young that he must be mad that Fox isnt letting him throw the ball more like a conventional quarterback.

Lost in the Tebowmania is Denvers defensive dominance over the last month. Healthy again, the Broncos are giving their quirky quarterback a chance for these thrilling comebacks by keeping games within reach.

Yeah, one thing about that quarterback: hes going to keep grinding, Champ Bailey said. And as a defense, weve just got to keep the team in the game, because in the fourth quarter, you never know what youre going to get.

Were never out of it. Its a good feeling, because I know if were close, weve got a chance.

Before Tebow pulled this one out, it appeared the Jets were going to win thanks to left guard Matt Slausons touchdown. He recovered rookie running back Bilal Powells fumble at the 1 and dived across the goal line early in the third quarter to give New York a 10-3 lead.

I didnt know what to think. At that time, you just feel like a big dumb animal. Youre just like, Oh, ball. And you just grab it and roll in, Slauson said. It was great. But it doesnt mean anything now.

Denver tied it at 10 when Andre Goodman stepped in front of Plaxico Burress and picked off Sanchezs pass and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown.

Kris Bryant knocks out Brewers and knows what big-game experience means for Cubs

Kris Bryant knocks out Brewers and knows what big-game experience means for Cubs

MILWAUKEE – Teammates swarmed Kris Bryant in Miller Park’s visiting dugout late Thursday night, flinging sunflower seeds and forming a mosh pit around the National League’s reigning MVP.

Are you not entertained? The Cubs haven’t always played with this urgency or made it easy while nursing a World Series hangover. But they can feel it now, how close they are to October and how much they learned last year while making history.

It’s too early to pop champagne bottles, but the Cubs won a huge swing game in the NL Central race, beating the Milwaukee Brewers in the 10th inning when Bryant blasted Oliver Drake’s 92-mph fastball off a beam underneath the gigantic video board.

The Cubs watched it ricochet back onto the right-center field grass for a go-ahead two-run homer, bumping up the division lead to 4.5 games while cutting the magic number to clinch the division down to six.

After a head-spinning 5-3 victory that lasted 3 hours and 57 minutes and ended at 11:08 p.m., Bryant didn’t sound surprised or overexcited, the same way he didn’t overreact when the Cubs struggled to gain traction before the All-Star break and the Brewers swept the defending World Series champs two weekends ago at Wrigley Field.       

“We’ve done that so many times,” Bryant said. “We’ve had a nice run with that. I guess it is experience. The heartbeats aren’t going too fast when the game’s on the line there. It kind of plays to our advantage.”

So did the Brewers pushing their bullpen so hard this week trying to catch up that Cubs manager Joe Maddon would have to admit “their A-listers were not available,” meaning Corey Knebel, Anthony Swarzak and Josh Hader. Classic response from Bryant, who has 28 homers and likes to think of pitchers as nameless, faceless opponents: “I didn’t find out their top three guys were down until after the game was over.”

Maybe that changes the ninth-inning rally against Jeremy Jeffress where Ian Happ sprinted for a “Respect 90” single and scored the game-tying run when Javier Baez delivered a two-out, two-strike single up the middle. But the Cubs are in their element now, playing games that matter, not what-if.

“I just think we like loud,” Maddon said. “I think we’re a little bit like adrenaline junkies with the fact we’re used to 40,000 people a night.”

Just look at the stone face Wade Davis made in the ninth inning, escaping a bases-loaded jam by striking out Domingo Santana swinging at an elevated 95-mph fastball and forcing Orlando Arcia to chop a 3-2 pitch back to the mound. The All-Star closer who’s 32-for-32 in save chances went back out for the 10th inning and struck out the side to notch the win. That is a five-out playbook Maddon can use in October.

“You definitely feel it,” Davis said of the playoff atmosphere in a road stadium filled with Cubs fans. “It’s a lot easier to get up for the moment itself instead of having to create it yourself. You feel that.”

As Cubs move closer to division title, Jake Arrieta looks ready for October

As Cubs move closer to division title, Jake Arrieta looks ready for October

MILWAUKEE – This was the type of game Jake Arrieta visualizes, a loud atmosphere with 35,114 fans on their feet and an opponent that really doesn’t like the Cubs at all.

This one would ultimately be out of his hands, lasting 10 innings and almost 4 hours on Thursday night at Miller Park, but Arrieta looked like a Game 1 starter as the Cubs roared back for a 5-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Those playoff plans are coming into focus, the magic number to win the National League Central title down to six and Arrieta managing the Grade 1 right hamstring strain that has been one of the biggest question marks hanging over the defending World Series champs.

“It’s just good to be back out there,” Arrieta said. “These are big games, and I want to be a part of as many as I can, especially to try and clinch the division as quick as possible and then kind of line things up for us in October. But we got to get there first.”

Arrieta threw his first real pitch in 18 days at 7:16 p.m., firing a 92-mph fastball toward Brewers leadoff guy Eric Sogard and giving the Cubs a shot of adrenaline. That always wears off, but the Cubs are a different team when Arrieta sticks his chest out and triggers his perfect posture into a crossfire delivery.

Arrieta looked sharp in his first real action since Labor Day, even as his five-inning, 71-pitch limit exposed how fragile this pitching staff might be right now. If it’s not Jon Lester laboring at the top of the rotation, it’s the softer spots in the middle of the bullpen, or questions about how much wear and tear the Cubs can take after a deep playoff run in 2015 and last year’s World Series madness stretched into early November. 

But Arrieta basically picked up where he left off as the NL pitcher of the month for August, realigning his unique mechanics and generating enough power from his right leg, restarting the momentum in a second half where he’s shown the flashes of dominance you saw during his 2015 Cy Young Award season. 

Arrieta exited this game with a 2-1 lead – before it spun out of control – and passed one test by hustling to cover first base to complete an inning-ending 3-6-1 double play in the fifth. He walked just one of the 20 hitters he faced and could really only regret one pitch in the fourth inning, the 92-mph fastball Domingo Santana drilled off the batter’s eye in center field.

“I felt OK,” Arrieta said. “I can tell that something happened. I think it’s just the residual feeling of something like a hamstring strain. But no pain, really no discomfort. That’s a good sign.

“Tomorrow is the biggest indicator moving forward of how we’ll be able to approach this. I don’t see any reason that I won’t feel good tomorrow.”

Arrieta is scheduled to make two more regular-season starts, but this dramatic comeback means the Cubs might be able to treat those as controlled experiments instead of must-win situations.

“Just an incredible baseball game,” Arrieta said. “This is a really awesome time to be in an organization like this, in a division like the NL Central, where there’s a couple teams that have playoff aspirations in mind. If we take care of business here over the next few days, we get a couple steps closer.”