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Peyton Manning and Tim Tebow: Two struggling QB’s who have led the Broncos to wins

Peyton Manning, Tim Tebow

Peyton Manning, left, has led the Broncos on a six-game winning streak, much like Tim Tebow did in 2011.

(Andrew Weber / Getty Images; Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Peyton Manning is still throwing more interceptions than touchdowns, but the Denver Broncos continue to win. 

Manning threw for one score and was picked off three times Sunday during the Broncos’ 26-23 overtime win over the Cleveland Browns. That makes seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season for Manning ... and six wins and zero losses for the Broncos.

How is this possible? Well, Denver’s defense has been playing stellar football and Manning is still coming through in the clutch: For example, he hit Emmanuel Sanders with a 75-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter Sunday and completed all four of his passes during the overtime drive that led to the game-winning field goal.

Does any of this sound familiar to Broncos fans? Hate to say it, but it should. In 2011, the Broncos went through a similar stretch in which the defense would keep them in games long enough for their rather ineffective quarterback to make some big plays and lead the team to victory.

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That quarterback was Tim Tebow, who helped the Broncos win six straight and seven out of eight during a magical stretch that year that ultimately led to a postseason berth and a playoff victory.

Right now, Manning has a passer rating of 72.5. It would be the lowest since his rookie year. In 2011, Tebow finished with a 72.5 rating, although it was higher than that four times during his six-game winning streak.

Also during that stretch, Tebow threw for seven touchdowns, just like Manning this year. But unlike the Broncos’ future Hall of Famer, Tebow had just one pass intercepted during that span, and that was after going five straight games without throwing a pick.

But one reason Tebow didn’t throw many interceptions might be that he had trouble getting anyone to catch any of his passes. In 14 games that season, he completed just 126 of his 271 passes -- that’s just 46.5%. 

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In only six games this season, Manning has already completed and attempted more passes, 146 of 237, for a completion percentage of 61.6. His career average is 65.4.

So Manning and Tebow had their own Achilles’ heels, but they got the job done -- for six games at least. Tebow was unable to keep the magic alive in 2011. 

Manning still has 10 games left to either return to the form that won him five league MVP awards -- or at least make his season a little less Tebow-esque.

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