Eisenberg: What If Ravens Face Tebow In Playoffs?


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There's also major historical karma between Baltimore and Denver regarding quarterbacks, as football historians know. The Colts were still here when they sent John Elway to the Broncos after he refused to suit up for the Irsays as the first pick in the 1983 draft.


Now that Tebow has emerged, winning seven of eight starts to thrust the Broncos into the AFC playoff picture, last year's draft-day trade makes it twice that Baltimore has handed Denver its quarterback.

That's a lot of giving without receiving much in return. Wouldn't a playoff game this January give Baltimore a chance to exact some payback?

Oh, sure, there was that 1983 game when Elway, then a rookie, absorbed a fearsome beating at Memorial Stadium; the city's fans took great joy in watching the guy who had snubbed them get hounded as Baltimore won. But that game occurred before Joe Flacco was born, so the statute of limitations has expired on any meaningful socio-political ramifications.

And anyway, the Colts were gone to Indianapolis within months, so who laughed last? Certainly not Baltimore as Elway developed into a Hall of Famer who won a pair of Super Bowls for Denver.

There was also a wild-card playoff game in 2000 when the Ravens battered Denver, 21-3, to start their Super Bowl run – the only home playoff game the Ravens have ever won, by the way. But the immortal Gus Frerotte was under center for Denver that day, so it was kind of a bye.

Ravens against Tebow would be a lot more, well, cosmically meaningful.

It could easily happen. If the Broncos roll on and capture the AFC West title, they would almost surely secure a No. 4 seed as the division winner with the worst record in the AFC, pitting them against the No. 5 seed in a first- round game. That No. 5 almost surely will be the loser of the AFC North pennant race between the Ravens and Steelers.

Long story short: It looks like whoever doesn't win the AFC North could end up playing Tebow in the first round. And of course, there's always a chance the Ravens could meet up with him in a later round.

How would that go?

I admit Tebow's success is surprising me, even though I did write a column on this site 21 months ago saying it “makes sense” for the Ravens to draft him. But my idea was for them to use him to run a "Purple Wildcat," not the entire offense over Flacco. I had my doubts about his ability to become a franchise quarterback. I guess I still do.

But having said that, I can only stand and applaud what he is accomplishing this season. He doesn't have the typical NFL quarterback's skill set by any means, but his enormous determination and character are winning out. I'm all for it. It is fun to watch a guy keep making miracles and proving people wrong.

In the end, though, I think a matchup with the Ravens would go poorly for him. The Ravens are physical and relentless on defense, even violent. They're pounding opposing quarterbacks this year, leading the league in sacks. If they're ever vulnerable, it's against veteran quarterbacks who can pick them apart, not young guys who sometimes struggle to make even easy throws.

If you can't move the ball in the air, you're going to have a tough time against the Ravens. Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata would love a shot at Tebow, that's what I think. Absolutely love it.

John Eisenberg covers the Ravens for Comcast SportsNet Baltimore. He worked in the newspaper business for 28 years as a sports columnist, with much of that time coming at the Baltimore Sun. While working for the Sun, Eisenberg spent time covering the Ravens, among other teams and events, including the Super Bowl, Final Four, World Series and Olympics. Eisenberg is also the author of seven sports-themed books.

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