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Miami loses to Denver 18-15 in OT

Associated Press Published: October 23, 2011
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MIAMI (AP) — Marlon Moore couldn't hang on. Neither could the winless Miami Dolphins.

Moore's bobble of an onside kick was one of several costly misplays down the stretch by the Dolphins, who gave up two touchdowns in the final 2:44 of regulation and lost to Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos 18-15 in overtime Sunday.

The Broncos appeared beaten when they trailed 15-0 with 5:23 left and took over at their 20. At that point Tebow was 4 for 14 for 40 yards.

But he led TD drives of 80 and 56 yards sandwiched around the onside kick, and he scored a 2-point conversion standing up with 17 seconds left to tie the game.

In overtime, Denver's D.J. Williams sacked Matt Moore to force a fumble and recovered it at the Miami 36. Three plays later Matt Prater hit a game-winning 52-yard field goal.

"I'm trying to search for answers, and I just keep coming back to embarrassing," Miami running back Reggie Bush said. "Everything about this loss today is embarrassing."

The Broncos (2-4) won for the first time in the eight games they've played on the Dolphins' field. Miami (0-6) extended the NFL's longest losing streak to nine games, leaving the status of embattled coach Tony Sparano even more tenuous.

"He's the head coach and he's going to take a lot of heat," receiver Brandon Marshall said. "But trust me, it's not him. Not just him. It's all of us."

The Dolphins lost for the 12th time in their past 13 home games.

"Loss for words, really," receiver Davone Bess said. "Unacceptable. Those kind of ball games, you have to come out on top. You have to. And we didn't — again."

Tebow started for the benched Kyle Orton, and for much of the game the Broncos sputtered. Tebow was sacked seven times as he struggled to identify blitzes, and several throws landed nowhere near a receiver.

As he walked to the sideline after one series stalled, spectators chanted his name in derision, and Dolphins players gestured to the crowd for more noise.

"You can't lose confidence in yourself, or you've lost already," Tebow said. "When you get knocked down, you've got to keep getting back up."

That's what Tebow did. With the Broncos on the verge of being shut out for the first time since 1992, he led an eight-play touchdown drive that got them back in the game.

Matthew Willis' 42-yard reception was a pivotal play, and Tebow threw a 5-yard scoring pass to Demaryius Thomas with 2:44 left to make the score 15-7.

Then came the onside kick. Marlon Moore, a receiver, leaped to catch the ball but bobbled it and the Broncos' Virgil Green recovered at their 44 with 2:31 left.

"They made the play. I didn't," Moore said. "It was just a bang-bang play. I had it, the dude turned the corner, hit me, it came out, they got it."

Tebow's strike to a diving Daniel Fells gained 28 yards to the 3. Two plays later, Tebow fooled the Dolphins by rolling left and throwing back to the right to Fells, who dived across the goal line for a 3-yard score with 17 seconds left.

Denver still needed a 2-point conversion to stay alive, and Tebow kept up the middle and the game moved to overtime.

"It's tough to say, but man, Timmy did a great job," said Dolphins center Mike Pouncey, who played with Tebow at Florida. "Hopefully the critics will get off him about what he can't do and talk about the things that he can do, and that's figure out a way to win the game, no matter what."

Prater missed field-goal attempts of 49 and 43 yards in regulation, but his kick with 7:24 left in OT gave Denver the victory.

"It's disappointing to see how our season is going," Marshall said. "We have a lot of talent. We just can't put it together on Sundays."

While the Broncos were two time zones from home, lots of fans wore Tebow jerseys, and the popular quarterback drew a big roar trotting onto the field for his first series. Tebow won a 2005 high school state championship and the 2008 national title with the Florida Gators in the same stadium.

Crowd loyalties were divided even at halftime, when the Dolphins paid tribute to the 2008 Gators. Seventeen former Gators and former coach Urban Meyer took part in the ceremony, drawing a mix of cheers and jeers.

Despite the salute to the Gators and Tebow mania, the stadium was almost half empty at the start — a sign of growing fan discontent with the Dolphins.

"Our fans, they've been through a lot of hard times," Pouncey said. "It's time that we turn this thing around and give them what they want to see, and that's winning football games here in Miami."

Notes: LeBron James tweeted: "Congrats to (at)TimTebow for that comeback win today. Impressive! He's just a winner." ... DE Jared Odrick registered the first sack of the season by a Dolphins lineman. ... Denver rookie Von Miller had his sixth sack of the season.