- Last Updated: 8:32 AM, August 11, 2012
- Posted: 2:32 AM, August 11, 2012
CINCINNATI — Same Old Tebow.
The Jets new backup quarterback showed the best and worst of what he can do in his preseason debut for the team last night. Tim Tebow wowed with his legs, but underwhelmed with his arm.
Tebow provided a spark after a sluggish start by quarterback Mark Sanchez and the starting offense in a 17-6 loss to the Bengals in front of 44,161 fans at Paul Brown Stadium. He finished the night 4-for-8 for 27 yards with one interception. He also rushed it four times for 34 yards.
The polarizing player entered the game at quarterback 8:17 p.m. with 14:02 left in the second quarter. Tebow hit rookie Stephen Hill for a 12-yard gain on his first play. He then showed his scrambling ability, tucking and running for gains of 14 and 10 yards, the team’s longest rushing plays up to that point.
“I liked the poise he showed,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said. “Obviously, [he] made some big runs and that’s what we say he can do. If you want to come after him, you better get to him. In time, he’ll kill you running and that’s what he did. I think we did some good things and I saw some guys finishing some blocks down the field.”
Tebow got into the game as the personal protector on the punt team before he played quarterback. He was in on three punts, one of which was nullified by a penalty.
The most famous special teams player in the NFL nearly missed his first punt play. After the offense went three-and-out, he started to walk toward the quarterbacks huddle on the sideline to review the pictures of the plays. Then, he realized it was a punt.
“I thought, ‘oh shoot, I’m out there,’ “ he said. “I just ran out there. I got out there a few seconds late. It was the first time in my life I’ve been out there for special teams.”
He played five series at quarterback, but his final play was his most forgettable of the night. With 5:53 left in the third quarter, Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict intercepted a badly underthrown pass from Tebow intended for tight end Jeff Cumberland. That was Tebow’s final series of the night.
“I felt like personally, I did some things good,” Tebow said. “I obviously want that last throw back. It was a really good play by that linebacker.”
The Jets ran no Wildcat plays with Tebow. They are trying to keep their exact plans for Tebow under wraps until the regular season arrives Sept. 9 against the Bills. Ryan said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis called him Thursday morning to ask him not to run the Wildcat.
“I know nobody’s worried about Wildcat and all that stuff. It’s real easy to stop,” Ryan said sarcastically. “That’s why I got a call at 7 a.m. the day before we played by Marvin not wanting to see the Wildcat. I guess I’m the only guy who thinks it has a place in the NFL, me and every defensive coach in the league.”
On his 14-yard scramble when he made multiple Bengals miss, Tebow jumped up and screamed in excitement.
“Sometimes I just get excited,” Tebow said. “I love playing the game of football. I know as a quarterback, you want to have that ice water in your veins and the calm before the storm, but I’m an excited, passionate football player. ... That’s me. That’s who I am. Sometimes I’ve just got to let it out a little bit.”
This performance by Tebow did nothing to help the cause of those rooting for a quarterback controversy on the Jets this season. Though he showed a great ability to escape the pass rush, his passes still lack the zip of Sanchez’s.
Sanchez went 4-for-6 for 21 yards and had one rush for 4 yards. He took just 14 snaps over two series. The most troubling aspect of the first-team offense’s performance was the pressure the offensive line allowed. Sanchez was sacked twice and badly pressured on another play.
“Was it our best? No,” Sanchez said. “But we’re not going to just go crawl in a hole right now. We’ve got to learn from it and move on.”Follow @NYPostsports