Struggling Tim Tebow braces for Steelers’ daunting ‘D’

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — John Elway wants to see more aggression out of Tim Tebow. John Fox wants to see more accuracy.

They trust he can deliver on both counts Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) and the league’s top-ranked defense.

Having won the Denver Broncos‘ starting job and the AFC West title by default, Tebow heads into his first playoff game mired in the worst slump of his life.

“The three losses haven’t shaken my confidence,” Tebow said after the Broncos backed their way into the playoffs at 8-8.

The results and his language on the football field suggest otherwise,

After watching him pile up comeback after improbable comeback, opponents seem to have solved the unorthodox QB, hemming him in the pocket with disciplined defense and daring him to beat them with his erratic left arm.

The result: back-to-back poor passing performances with a half-dozen turnovers and the first three-game losing streak of his career.

After turning the ball over four times at Buffalo on Christmas Eve, Tebow looked tentative Sunday in losing 7-3 to Kansas City and Kyle Orton, whom he couldn’t beat out in camp but still supplanted after the Broncos benched and then released Orton earlier this season. Tebow held on to the ball, passing up wide-open receivers or taking a sack. He completed just 6 of 22 passes for 60 yards and a career-worst 20.6 passer rating.

On Wednesday, Tebow said he has to be more aggressive and acknowledged “there’s a few opportunities I should have tried to force it in there, especially later in the game.”

Elway told a Denver Post columnist Tebow just needs to “put everything behind him, go through his progressions and pull the trigger.”

And Fox acknowledged the coaches need to call safer, shorter passes early on to build up the young quarterback’s confidence.

“Hey, we’re all in this together,” Fox said. “We have to put him in position where he can succeed and then he’s the one out there holding the ball. At the end of the day, we’ll try to give him some better pass plays to operate and he’ll just have to execute them.”

The Broncos own the next-to-worst passing game in the NFL, and the Steelers boast the league’s top pass defense.

So, Tebow knows he has to be less hesitant but he can’t make mistakes, either.

“I think especially the more you get into tighter games, playoff games, you’ve got to be aggressive,” Tebow said. “You’ve also got to be smart, but you’ve got to be aggressive and pull the trigger at times and it’s something that we’ll have to do.”

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