DENVER -- If it were someone other than Stephen Tulloch, the Detroit Lions' well-respected middle linebacker, maybe I would be suspicious. I guess everyone is entitled to their opinion, but here's mine: There was nothing offensive about Tulloch "Tebowing" in the first quarter of Sunday's 45-10 victory over the Denver Broncos.
Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow's prayer pose last week became a quasi-national sensation, but Tulloch said he was "just trying to have some fun" and meant "no disrespect" when he mimicked it following a sack. Tebow, in fact, approached Tulloch after the game and wished him luck this season.
"I just told him to keep his head up," Tulloch said after Tebow completed only 18 of 39 passes and had two turnovers, both of which the Lions returned for touchdown. "Better days are going to come for him. He knows that. He was a winner through college. He'll respond."
Added Tulloch: "I wasn't mocking him or anything. Everyone is doing it. I figured if I got to him I would do it, too."
Tight end Tony Scheffler incorporated the pose into a touchdown celebration during the second quarter. I didn't see Scheffler after the game, but if the Lions were mocking anything it was a media and social culture that turned something of a private moment into a national craze.
"It's not his fault," Tulloch said.
Asked if Lions players resented the hype granted to a player who has yet to establish himself in the NFL, Tulloch said: "You've got to give him that hype. You realize he did so much in college. First round draft pick. People want to see him play. It's his second season, his first season as a starter. He still has a lot to learn. … If he can keep developing as a quarterback --he's a great person -- he'll be OK."
With Tulloch serving in the so-called spy role, the Lions sacked Tebow seven times. According to ESPN Stats & Information, they blitzed on 55.6 percent of Tebow's dropbacks. That was a dramatic shift from their approach during the first seven weeks of the season, when they blitzed on only 17 percent of opposing dropbacks -- the second-lowest rate in the NFL. I'll have more on that approach in a bit.