It has to remain Tebow Time in Denver

Has an NFL crowd ever departed a stadium this pleased after seeing the home team fall to 1-4?

That’s the power of Tebow.

The Denver crowd departed the stadium on Sunday chanting the name of second-year Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow despite the fact that the Broncos lost 29-24 to the Chargers. The crowd was so fired up that Tebow was finally inserted in place of the struggling Kyle Orton, the reality of another loss didn’t matter.

What mattered is the Broncos finally gave Tebow a chance. That’s all the fans in Denver wanted. Now that Denver coach John Fox has gone to Tebow, there is no chance that the Broncos can or will go back.

Expect Fox to continue to say that he will evaluate the quarterback situation during the bye week. Really, however, there is nothing to evaluate. Tebow gave the Broncos a spark Sunday that Orton has not -- and Denver is now 6-22 in Orton’s past 28 starts.

As he has done all season, Fox said going into the San Diego game that Orton represented the team’s best chance to win. Both Orton and Tebow proved otherwise Sunday.

Orton was pulled after halftime. He completed 6 of 13 passes for 34 yards with an interception. The Broncos trailed 23-10 at the half and the offense was stagnant.

Just as he did in the final three games of his rookie season, Tebow ignited the Broncos and the offense moved the ball with him at the helm. Tebow rallied the Broncos late with a running touchdown and a passing touchdown.

On the game’s final play, from the San Diego 30, Tebow was at his scrambling best in avoiding would-be sackers, though his final pass fell incomplete in the end zone. And though Tebow didn’t complete the comeback, he did bring life to an offense that badly needed a boost.

Tebow might not be polished and he is a work in progress. But he brings excitement and hope to excitement- and hope-starved Denver.

With Denver essentially a non-factor in the AFC West at the bye, keeping Tebow at quarterback is the only choice. It is time to see if Tebow can prove he is ready to be a starting NFL quarterback. If he is, the franchise can make strides. If not, the Broncos will know that Tebow is not the answer and can find their quarterback of the future in the offseason. For the rest of the 2011 season, however, the only answer is sticking with Tebow.