Tebow had two long runs -- of 32 and 28 yards, each setting up a touchdown -- on read options in which the 11 Raiders on the field were seemingly the last ones in the stadium to realize the quarterback kept the ball.
"When we start the week, we talk about potentially what can happen, what type of play it is, and that was the No. 1 football play for them," Raiders coach Hue Jackson said. "Trust me: We had somebody for the quarterback, somebody for the back. It didn't happen right."
It was not the only thing that did not happen right for the Raiders. They committed 15 penalties for 130 yards and while Carson Palmer made a spectacular throw to fullback Marcel Reese for a 40-yard touchdown, he also looked like a quarterback who has had less than three weeks of practice, throwing three interceptions and struggling to make proper reads.
"It's kind of a crash course," Palmer said. "It feels like cramming for a test."
One sequence early on typified the Raiders bumbling. After a run by Taiwan Jones lost a yard, Palmer took a knee, thinking the Broncos were offside. They weren't. Then they were called for delay of game. Then they were whistled for 12 men in the huddle. Palmer's third-down pass was dropped by Denver linebacker D.J. Williams.
Palmer was not so fortunate late in the third quarter when his pass over the middle sailed high to Denarius Moore, who tipped the ball to Denver cornerback Chris Harris. McGahee got the ball on the next play and burst 60 yards to tie the score, 24-24.
The Broncos took the lead on Royal's punt return with 5:53 to play, then sealed the win on McGahee's 24-yard scoring run, the last of his 20 carries and 163 yards.
At that point, Tebow was slapping hands and hugging coaches on the sideline, his bloodied lip not dampening his enthusiasm at all.
"That's huge to get that momentum going," Tebow said. "I talk about it, but I really believe it and it's huge -- once you get the momentum on your side, I think it's a huge advantage. No matter who you are, I think it's much tougher to be stopped when you've got that mo going for you."