Bears

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.

Akiem Hicks reveals what makes him so good against the run

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USA TODAY

Akiem Hicks reveals what makes him so good against the run

Akiem Hicks finally earned the recognition he deserved in 2018 with his first trip to the Pro Bowl, and playing on the NFL’s No. 1 defense provided the national attention he should have received in his first two years with the Bears.

He’s a solid interior pass rusher, but where he dominates is in run defense, leading the NFL in run stops last season according to Pro Football Focus.

When Hicks beats an offensive lineman at the line of scrimmage to make a big tackle in the backfield, it’s a work of art, and he revealed the secret to those flashy plays on NFL Game Pass.

He broke down the film of a play against the Green Bay Packers where he beats center Corey Linsley because he knew right guard Jordan McCray was going to pull to the left.

“I read it before the snap happens. I know that McCray is going to pull just based off his stance,” Hicks said. “I know his stance for every play that he’s going to do. I’m going to be at least 75 percent right.”

Hicks looks at how much weight an offensive lineman is putting on his hand, how far apart his legs are and how much bend is in his hips.

“If you do your due-diligence as a defensive lineman and prepare like a professional during the week, you’re going to know,” Hicks said.

Any little deviation from a normal stance is an indicator to Hicks of what the play is going to be, and that pre-snap knowledge keeps him a step ahead of the blocker in front of him.

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Bulls finally getting with the times, putting together versatile roster

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USA TODAY

Bulls finally getting with the times, putting together versatile roster

Position-less basketball is the hot new buzzword in NBA circles, but it's also an important one.

Consider what the 2016-17 Bulls rolled out the same year the Golden State Warriors Death Lineup'd their way to an NBA title. Led by the Three Alphas of Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler, here's how the minutes shook out, per Basketball Reference.

Rondo played 100% of his minutes at point guard despite having played 42% of his minutes at shooting guard the year earlier for the Kings (a year in which he shot 36.5% from deep). Wade played 84% of his minutes at shooting guard. The following seasons, the last two of his career, he played 31% at point guard, 54% at shooting guard and 15% at small forward.

Butler played 93% of his minutes at small forward. The next two seasons, in Minnesota and Philadelphia, his minutes were split up at 45% shooting guard, 48% small forward and 7% power forward.

Taj Gibson played 96% of his minutes at power forward and Robin Lopez played 100% of his minutes at center. Nikola Mirotic played 88% of his minutes at power forward. Over the last two seasons, he's played 74% of his minutes at power forward and 23% at center (and 3% at small forward).

Sensing a theme here?

While the NBA zigged toward position-less basketball, the Bulls...didn't do anything. They had traditional roles, had little depth that allowed them to tinker with lineups despite that being the best way to utilize Fred Hoiberg's philosophies, and they failed. Yes, they led 2-0 on the Celtics in the first round of the postseason. No, that didn't make that entire season any less of a mess.

Fast forward two years and one rebuild later, and the Bulls enter Year 3 of the post-Jimmy Buckets era with some serious versatility.

The latest signal that this franchise is ready to move forward came on Thursday when the Bulls drafted North Carolina guard Coby White. He's not a traditional point guard, and the Bulls don't want him to be. In fact, the Bulls' entire offseason feels like it could be more about finding the right players instead of the right positional needs.

"John (Paxson) and I have had great conversations about our team during the year, at the end of the season, about what we thought we needed, where we thought we needed to go, and today is a product of that, of those meetings, those discussions, and his view," Jim Boylen said Monday. "We talked about positional size a lot, we talked about speed, quickness, athleticism. Those are the things we thought we needed with the group of guys we had, to add to them. Whether it’s vertical spacing, speed, making defenses chase people over, all those kinds of things, we discussed. And as we went into the draft process we were hoping to find players to help us with that. Thankfully we have."

Of White specifically, Boylen said the Bulls won't "put him in this box where he just has to play this way," Boylen added. For the first time arguably since Nate Robinson in 2013, the Bulls have a legitimate shooting threat at point guard. What's more, the 6-foot-5 White can play off the ball and spot up for perimeter jumpers, something that makes Zach LaVine more valuable and the offense more versatile.

The Bulls are finally looking to look like a versatile group. Otto Porter's defensive ability will give the Bulls the option of playing small, something that prior to his arrival just meant Chandler Hutchison getting abused in the post. Lauri Markkanen is a work-in-progress as a center, though his limited minutes and skill set give optimism that it's something he can do in spurts going forward. LaVine was never going to take on a full-time point guard role, but he was more than comfortable with the ball in his hands acting as an offensive initiator last season. maybe Kris Dunn, LaVine and White all share the floor together.

We could even see second round pick Daniel Gafford and Wendell Carter Jr. together in massive frontline spurts if the opposition calls for it. That's more fantasy than reality, but having the option is something they didn't have in the past.

The next step is free agency. With the Bulls, in theory, having starters at all five positions - White could move to the bench if Paxson goes after a veteran free agent - the Bulls can again get versatile and hone in on particular skill sets instead of simply trying to round out the depth chart. It doesn't feel like the Bulls will make a major splash - either giving Milwaukee's Malcolm Brogdon a gigantic offer sheet or finding room to sign Brooklyn's D'Angelo Russell - but they'll be aggressive with their more than $22 million in cap space. They need point guard depth, more shooters on the wing and a locker room presence (Cris Felicio is a month younger than Otto Porter, the oldest player on the Bulls).

"We have a very good idea of what we want. But we’re going to have to wait until the 30th to go at it. But we know we need to add some veterans," Paxson said. "Definitely, we’re looking for a couple veteran guys that fit well with this young group – be pros, show these guys every day what it means to be a professional. Most guys that last a long time in this league, they last because they’ve been pros. They take care of themselves, they’ve played well, they’ve done all the right things. And that’s always best example for young players.”

The roster is far from a finished product. Injuries aside, the Bulls still won just 22 games a year ago, don't have max cap space, and White isn't Zion Williamson.

There's work to do. But for the first time during the rebuild, the Bulls are going to have options. The roster is beginning to look like what an group of NBA players in 2019 should look like. The Bulls are getting versatile, and it's an important step forward.