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.

Future with Sharks still uncertain for Thornton, Marleau

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Future with Sharks still uncertain for Thornton, Marleau

More than four weeks have passed since the Sharks were dispatched by the Edmonton Oilers in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau appear no closer to signing contract extensions than when the season ended. 

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson faces some of the toughest decisions of his 14-year tenure as the head of the hockey department in the coming weeks, beginning with the two best players in franchise history.

And, no, there are no back room handshake deals here between the Sharks and either of Thornton or Marleau, allowing the Sharks to protect extra players in the upcoming expansion draft. The two veterans are still pending unrestricted free agents in the truest sense, and it’s no certainty that either will return to San Jose.

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Re-signing Thornton would seem to be more of a priority than re-signing Marleau, as centermen are more valuable than wingers. Thornton’s line, with Joe Pavelski and whoever the left wing happened to be, was still drawing the opposition’s top defense pair on many nights this season. Marleau was on that line at times, but was shuffled up and down throughout the year, spending about half the season on the third line.

Thornton apparently dodged disaster in terms of his left knee, as multiple sources have told NBC Sports California that the brunt of the damage was to his MCL, not his ACL. As long as he recovers fully, as expected, there’s reason to believe that Thornton could be better next season than he was in 2016-17. Last year’s Stanley Cup Final run, the World Cup, and the condensed schedule seemed to take their toll. Thornton, who typically downplays anything remotely negative, admitted more than once that this season in particular was a grind.

But perhaps just as important to the Sharks is what Thornton brings to the team emotionally. Pavelski may still be the captain – and an effective one, at that – but Thornton is still the heartbeat. Pete DeBoer made that clear after Game 2 of the first round against the Oilers, talking about what Thornton’s absence from the bench in those first two games meant to the team in terms of a bench presence.

“It’s old school accountability with Joe. It’s black and white,” DeBoer said. “He came up in an era and at a time and around people who you weren’t worried about hurting feelings. You said what needed to be said. That’s not always the case now in modern dressing rooms and with modern athletes. He’s a great resource for us, because there’s no greater pressure than peer pressure, especially from a Hall of Fame guy like that.”

So what might it take to retain Thornton and keep him from hitting the open market? 

It has been previously reported that Thornton wanted a three-year deal, and that remains the case. As for money, I would expect Thornton – who has taken hometown discounts in the past to stay in San Jose – to ask for at least $5 million per season, minimum. Our best guess here is that a Thornton-Sharks pre-July 1 agreement would probably look something like three years and somewhere between $15 – 17 million.

Whether the Sharks would be willing to make that kind of commitment to Thornton, who will be 38 in July, is unclear. If they are not, Thornton could listen to offers from other teams beginning on June 24, when the window opens for unrestricted free agents to speak with other teams.

Still, Thornton’s first choice is to remain in San Jose. The Sharks don’t have anyone that could replace him on or off the ice. There should be a deal to be made here, either sooner or later.

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Marleau’s future with the Sharks seems much hazier.

Unlike Thornton – who put up with public ridicule from Wilson and had his captaincy stripped – Marleau’s commitment to the organization hasn’t been quite as steadfast. Recall in 2015, of course, when Marleau’s preference for a brief stretch was to leave the Sharks. We reported here in November, 2015 that he was willing to accept a trade to three teams, while ESPN reported that Marleau’s agent was “quietly exploring the market” as late as January, 2016.

While those feelings seem to have passed over time, Marleau hasn’t been as emphatic as Thornton in his desire to return. When asked on April 24 if he would like to come back to the Sharks, Marleau said: “Yeah, it would be nice. We’ll see if that’s an option. A lot of time here before this decision needs to be made.”

At this point, though, Marleau may be asking for a bit much in his next deal. It’s believed that the franchise’s all-time leading scorer is, like Thornton, seeking a contract of at least three years.

That shouldn’t be overly surprising. When asked then if he wanted a multi-year deal on April 24, Marleau said: “Yeah, I think so. … I still feel like I have at least five good years in me, or maybe more.”

As we wrote here in early February, it may not make much sense for the Sharks to commit to Marleau for more than one year for a number of reasons, including potential long-term (and surely expensive) contract extensions for Martin Jones and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, something Wilson has made his top priority this offseason. 

If Marleau is seeking a lengthy commitment from San Jose, I don’t see how that works from a business perspective for San Jose, which has a number of prospects in the system at wing that could potentially fill the hole Marleau would leave. Timo Meier and Marcus Sorensen, in particular, could be ready to take the next step, and both would be much cheaper options (Meier has two years left on his entry level deal, while Sorensen is a pending restricted free agent that won’t require a huge raise).

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Further complicating matters is that Thornton has never been shy about wanting to win with Marleau by his side. The two famously announced their nearly identical three-year contract extensions on Jan. 24, 2014, and Thornton would still prefer to have Marleau return to San Jose with him.

“Hopefully, I can come back and Patty can come back,” Thornton said after the season ended. “I think this team is a very good team. I think this is a Stanley Cup caliber team. I really believe that."

Considering the salary cap for next season has not yet been revealed, and that Wilson can’t officially extend Jones or Vlasic until July 1, the general manager could be forced to wait a little while before finalizing anything with either Thornton or Marleau. That makes it all the more likely that the Thornton and Marleau camps will at least get an opportunity to hear from other clubs and consider other offers in late June.

In short, anything is still possible. And Wilson, Thornton and Marleau all have some difficult decisions on the horizon in a Sharks offseason that is unlike any other.

49ers begin final phase of offseason program

49ers begin final phase of offseason program

The 49ers have graduated back to the phase of the offseason when offense-vs.-defense drills are allowed.

Because of the hiring of Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers were allowed an additional “voluntary” minicamp before the NFL draft. That meant the 49ers were permitted to skip from the two-week conditioning phase of the offseason straight to what is allowed under Phase III.

But after the three-day minicamp in late-April, the 49ers were forced to retreat back to Phase II, when on-field drills but could not include offense vs. defense.

Beginning Monday – and over the next three weeks -- the 49ers can get back to conducting the standard one-on-one, 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 "non-contact" drills. The 49ers have the maximum number of 10 organized team activities scheduled. The official offseason program concludes with a mandatory minicamp scheduled for June 13-15.

The real competition does not begin until the pads go on during training camp. but here’s a look at the team’s most notable offseason competitions (one position you will not find is quarterback, where the depth chart of Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley and C.J. Beathard appears clearly set):

Running back: Carlos Hyde, entering the final year of his original four-year contract, has a lot of competition to hold onto his role as the featured back. He is coming off his most-productive season, finishing just 12 yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark when he sustained a knee injury with one game remaining. Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner lobbied for Utah running back Joe Williams in the draft. They clearly see a fit for him within the system.

Pass-rush end: The 49ers’ pass rush was among the worst in the NFL the past two seasons. Arik Armstead will be given an opportunity to see if he can adapt to the “Leo” position. Aaron Lynch must earn the confidence of the coaching staff and front office. The 49ers added explosive, 243-pound pass Pita Taumoepenu in the sixth round.

Tight end: The 49ers confirmed Vance McDonald was available for a trade during the draft. After finding no takers, the 49ers brought back McDonald and he rejoins the competition among rookies George Kittle and Cole Hikutini, and veterans Logan Paulsen, Garrett Celek and Blake Bell.

Cornerback: Rashard Robinson is the obvious choice to start on one side. And assuming Jimmie Ward remains at free safety, the 49ers have no other player on the roster who has started a significant number of games at cornerback. Rookie Ahkello Witherspoon, a third-round draft pick, will have a legitimate opportunity to win a starting job, as long as he displays a willingness to stick his nose into the action and play with the requisite level of physicality. Dontae Johnson, Keith Reaser and Will Redmond should also be in the mix to replace Tramaine Brock, who was released shortly after his arrest after an alleged domestic incident last month.

Center: Jeremy Zuttah, a Pro Bowl performer, was added in the offseason via a trade with the Baltimore Ravens. Daniel Kilgore has been the 49ers’ center the past three seasons but injuries have limited him to just 23 starts over that period of time. Zuttah has position flexibility. The 49ers could determine the best thing for the offensive line is to move Zuttah to one of the guard positions – to challenge Zane Beadles or Joshua Garnett -- if he is not clearly better than Kilgore.

Weakside linebacker: The 49ers signed veteran Malcolm Smith on the first day of free agency, providing him with $11.5 million of fully guaranteed money. The 49ers ranked Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster as the No. 3 overall prospect in the draft. They traded up to select him at No. 31 overall. Assuming Foster is ready to compete at the beginning of training camp after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, it appears likely he would line up in that position and compete with Smith. The 49ers’ medical staff does not believe Foster will require any additional surgery, and Foster said he expects to be cleared for the opening of camp.