The scene was completely different Sunday, with a Denver franchise long out of the playoff hunt, with a major to-do list this offseason, no coach or general manager in place and the Broncos holding a 3-11 record entering Sunday.
But Tebow, for a day at least, made fans forget all the negativity.
"I think all things considered, he had a great day, and you've got to look at it that way," Broncos chief operating officer Joe Ellis said. "It's a great start, and he'll learn more as he goes along. It's just an exciting day overall for him and everybody in the stands. It changes the feeling a little bit for people."
There are still skeptics as to whether Tebow is the long-term answer at quarterback.
The points are valid and will have to be sorted out by the new coaching regime, a list that will begin getting compiled with the promotion of John Elway to personnel director or some similar title early next week.
But nearly his whole career, Tebow has been tagged with the elusive "it" factor when it came to his presence and leadership skills. And the indications are that early on, that quality hasn't dissipated since he moved to Denver.
"Some things are just meant to happen for some people. It just seems like Tebow is one of those guys," linebacker Mario Haggan said. "No matter what he does, good things seem to happen for him. Sometimes he created stuff by the way he works and prepares, and hopefully good things continue to happen for this kid."
One positive already occurred Monday. The worst-kept secret in Bronco-land was that Tebow was going to start the final three games once Kyle Orton hurt his ribcage. Interim coach Eric Studesville ended any possible drama by announcing it would be Tebow behind center this Sunday against San Diego.
The Chargers thoroughly handled Denver in the first meeting, but both teams now are officially out of the hunt for the AFC West title, as Kansas City clinched Sunday.
Even so, don't expect Tebow to go through the motions. It's not in his nature.
"The big part of this game is attitude. You can be as talented as you want to be, but if you don't have a good, positive attitude the way he (does), you're not going to succeed," cornerback Champ Bailey said. "The guy has a winning attitude, and it rubs off on people. I'd love to see a lot more of that from him coming up in the next game."
--Champ Bailey may not be around for this year's season finale due to a heel injury.
He may not be back next year, since he's a pending free agent.
But watching Tim Tebow scramble, inspire and improvise the last two games has made Bailey would consider sticking around Denver for the future if the right contract can be negotiated.
Bailey has seen the ESPN breakdowns that argue the pitfalls of Tebow's unconventional style and whether he's a legitimate franchise quarterback.
He's heard the fans argue the rookie's merits on local talk radio.
But he also viewed firsthand how Tebow handles the constant chatter by moving forward with a positive work ethic and by highlighting team over self.
"I've never seen a winner lose. He's a winner," Bailey said, when asked about Tebow's future. "And I expect him to win a lot of games as a pro quarterback. Hopefully, I'm around to see him do it."
--Lost in the Tebow hubbub is that Eric Studesville likely will be coaching his final game with the Broncos this week.
Studesville is 1-2 as the interim coach but isn't expected to get full consideration for the permanent job, though he's a prime candidate to remain on staff as an assistant.
He was given the game ball by team owner Pat Bowlen after Sunday's win.
"The way that Coach goes about the week in terms of respecting the players and taking care of our bodies, you always want to get out on that field and give him everything you've got," cornerback Andre Goodman said. "So it feels good to get him his first win."
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--WR Brandon Lloyd moved into the Broncos' No. 2 spot for most receiving yards in a single season, behind only Rod Smith (1,602, 2000). Lloyd's 1,375 yards have come on just 72 catches, giving him a 19.1-yard-per-catch average.
--TE Daniel Coats, a late addition to the roster, was busy in three-tight-end formations Sunday, joining Richard Quinn and Daniel Graham. All three are best known for their blocking abilities. A pass-catching tight end who can stretch the field vertically will be a top offseason priority.
--RB Knowshon Moreno was still considered "sore" Monday. It's believed Moreno could have played Sunday, but with Lance Ball and especially Correll Buckhalter giving the team a lift, there was no need risking a further setback. Moreno has shown flashes this year but still hasn't proven he can stay healthy and be an every-down workhorse NFL back.
--WR Demaryius Thomas was once again inactive with an ankle injury after practicing mostly in a limited fashion leading up to the Houston game. It would be big for Thomas' confidence moving forward if he could play vs. San Diego, helping serve as a springboard for hard offseason work to build up his body. Thomas, the first of Denver's two No. 1 picks in 2009, is expected to be part of the regular rotation next season.
--CB Syd'Quan Thompson is tied with Champ Bailey for the team lead with two interceptions with one game left. Should that number hold, it would mark only the third time since 1994 that Denver's leader in interceptions had that few picks. Dre' Bly had two in 2008, matching Rondell Jones' total from 1994.
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