Six NFL quarterbacks got their first start under center in Week 7 of the NFL schedule.
John Beck started in place of Rex Grossman (Florida) for the Washington Redskins – and lost 33-20.
Kyle Boller lasted just over one-half against the Kansas City Chiefs – as the Raiders were shutout 28-0.
A.J. Feeley started for the injured Sam Bradford as St. Louis traveled to Dallas – and were blown out 34-7.
Charlie Whitehurst took place under center for Seattle just in time for the snoozefest in Cleveland – as the Browns beat the Seahawawks 6-3.
Rookie Christian Ponder, the Vikings first round-pick, had to face the World Champion Green Bay Packers in his first start – and got beat 33-27.
Returning to his home state, Tim Tebow (Florida) led the Denver Broncos into Miami – and won 18-15 in overtime.
Six 2011 debuts – one only win. And what an improbably victory it was.
”Weirdest Home Game Ever,” read part of a Miami Herald headline.
Tebow’s start coupled with Dolphins honoring the 2008 National Champion Florida Gators at halftime produced the following spectacle, as noted by columnist Greg Cote.
It “meant half of the crowd was cheering for the opponent’s quarterback. It also meant the other half of the crowd (including many University of Miami fans) were booing the halftime ceremony honoring the Gators.
“You heard chants of “Te-bow!” and chants of “Te-bow sucks!”- sometime a simultaneous dual.”
The game itself wasn’t much of a dual for the first three-and-a-half quarters. Miami led 15-0 and Tebow looked bad. Really bad.
“Through almost 55 minutes of football at Sun Life Stadium, Tebow looked like he might not even survive his debut as a starter this season,” wrote columnist Israel Gutierrez.
“He was so bad, the Twitter universe was overwhelmed with jokes about his inaccuracy, his awkwardness in the pocket, his random 360-degree spins and how obvious it was that the Denver coaching staff had little-to-no-trust in him as a passer.”
On the last two drives of regulation, Tebow began earning their trust.
The Broncos quarterback threw two touchdown passes in 2:44 and tied the game by running in a two-point conversion with 17 seconds left.
Denver kicker Matt Prater kicked a 52-yard field goal in overtime and the Broncos walked out a winner.
The Denver Post, citing Elias Sports Bureau figures, notes that no team since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 had ever been down by as many as 15 points with less than three minutes remaining and won.
Behold. The Miracle in Miami.
“It’s my fault that we were in that (15-0) situation in the first place. I just have to play better in the first three quarters so we don’t have to make that comeback in the fourth,” said Tebow after the game.
Just how bad was Tebow before the final drives of regulation? The Broncos QB had completed just 4-of-14 passes for 40 yards. But in the end, Tebow and the Broncos got exactly what they wanted – a win in Miami.
“He’s a guy that as long as there’s time on the clock, he’s going to give us a chance to win,” said John Elway after the game. “Those are the things you can’t coach.”
For other “Tim-Tastic” coverage, check out the roundup at ProFootballtalk.com.
The Dolphins meltdown has plenty in the media speculating about the future of head coach Tony Sparano. As part of the Florida Gators celebration, Urban Meyer was in the stadium Sunday and spent time talking with Dolphins owner Stephen Ross in the second half.
Before the game, Ross was photographed with one arm around Meyer and the other around Don Shula.
The Miami Herald says a coaching change with the Dolphins is coming and that Meyer seemed to impress Ross. But the paper says that if Meyer ever returns to coaching, it will likely be at the collegiate level but later added that “Meyer seemed to join the conversation Sunday.”
Some other SEC-related news from around the league:
Cam Newton (Auburn) and Carolina won for the second time this season while the QB tied a rookie record. The Panthers beat Washington 33-20 as Newton rushed for his seventh touchdown this season – tying a rookie record for most rushing scores for a quarterback since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.
“The kid is a pretty Ferrari,” said Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall. “He can run. He can throw. He’s got the entire package. He’s going to a be a player in this league for a long time.”
Newton completed 18-of-23 passes for 256 yards and one touchdown.
Jay Cutler (Vanderbilt) wasn’t great on Sunday, but good enough to win as Chicago beat Tampa Bay in London. Cutler was 17-32 with one touchdown and two interceptions in the game. Afterwards, he refused to blame the long-distance travel.
“You know, the travel and all that had nothing to do with the football game,” Cutler said. “We could have gotten here yesterday. It’s a matter of going out and executing, limiting turnovers. That’s what wins football games, not getting here a week early or three days. It has nothing to do with it.”
The Houston Texans had not one but two former SEC running backs cross the 100-yard mark on Sunday.
Both Arian Foster (Tennessee) and Ben Tate (Auburn) crossed the century mark as the Texans blasted the Tennessee Titans 41-7. Foster wound 115 yards rushing while Tate finished with 104.
“When I go out there and see him get a touchdown or break a run, I start going nuts on the sideline because I want to do the same thing,” Tate said. “When I get my chance, I’m definitely trying to outdo him.”
For the season, Tate is the Texans leading rusher with 466 yards. Foster is second with 420.
Rookie Mark Ingram (Alabama) and the Saints had their way with the Indianapolis Colts Sunday night – winning 62-7. Ingram appeared to be on track for his first 100-yard game of his career but was sidelined by a fourth quarter injury. He finished with 91 yards on 14 carries.
The injury was to his heel and Saints coach Sean Payton said after the game that x-rays were negative.
A few other injuries of notes:
Earnest Graham (Florida) Percy Harvin (Florida), Matthew Stafford (Georgia), Darren McFadden (Arkansas), and Mohamed Massaquoi (Georgia) all left the field on Sunday with various injuries for their respective teams.
Stafford was scheduled to have an MRI Monday for an injured leg, McFadden was believed to have sprained his foot, Harvin aggrevated a rib injury, Massaquoi suffered a head injury after getting hit following an incomplete pass over the middle and Graham reportedly suffered a torn Achilles tendon.