Tebow stays level-headed under major spotlight

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Tebow stays level-headed under major spotlight

FOXBORO -- Tim Tebow isn't changing for anybody.

Entering Sunday's game against the Patriots, opinions -- positive and negative -- about the way the Denver Broncos quarterback carries himself and his religion have been heard from just about anyone who has knowledge of the NFL.

Even those who aren't fans of the sport have weighed in. So his impact has been made.

But the bigger story may be the way that Tebow has handled all of the criticism.

"It says a lot about him," said Broncos coach John Fox in Wednesday's conference call. "The criticism all hasn't been good, that's for sure. And I think he's handled it as well as anybody I've ever been around."

From his publicly displayed religious beliefs, to his quarterbacking style, Fox is right. Not much of it has been good. But Tebow finds a way to ignore most of the noise, mainly because it's out of his control.

"I've honestly done my best to try to just stay clear of it, and not pay too much attention, and not listen to too much of it," said Tebow on Wednesday. "It's obviously hard. It's hard to get that far away from it. But something I learned when I was pretty young at Florida, was not to worry about what I can't control. And that's something that I can't control.

"So I think my biggest focus is every day, trying to be the best teammate, trying to honor the Lord with how I play and how I live, and trying to work to be a better quarterback, a better teammate, be focused, and have a great attitude. That's really been my outlook on everything, and not necessarily what people are saying about me. And I thank the Lord that I don't have to live the roller coaster that other people say about my life."

So as critics speak about his faith, Tebow uses that faith to block out the naysayers. But when asked if his faith has gotten stronger, in the face of the largest amount of adversity he's ever faced in the game of football, Tebow admitted that it was the first time that question had been asked.

"I'm not sure," said Tebow. "I hope so. I pray that it is. Because I think that whatever you're going through in your life, you continue to grow as a person in your faith, and for me as a Christian, trying to grow closer to the Lord, and continuing to try to strengthen my faith. And one way you definitely strengthen your faith is through obstacles, through adversity, and there's definitely been some of that. So that definitely strengthens your faith.

"And then also something that strengthens your faith is sometimes when you have praise or things go good, how you handle it. And I think for me, one of my biggest prayers is, win or lose, good or bad, I'm the same guy. I honor the Lord either way. I treat people the exact same. And I'm not changing, no matter what happens. I think that's one of my biggest prayers."

Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32

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Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32

NEW ORLEANS - Devonta Freeman practically wore out the Superdome turf with one long gain after another, Tevin Coleman wouldn't be denied near the goal line and the New Orleans Saints hardly looked like the team that made an emotional homecoming nearly 10 years ago to the day.

Cheers turned to boos, and many fans filed out early.

Coleman rushed for three touchdowns, Matt Ryan passed for two TDs and Deion Jones returned an interception 90 yards for a score to help the Atlanta Falcons beat the winless New Orleans Saints 45-32 on Monday night.

"It was real fun. Everybody was doing their job and everybody was playing for each other," Coleman said. "Everything clicked, and we got it done. It's a real big win for us to beat this team here."

The game coincided with New Orleans' celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the Saints' memorable return to the Superdome on Sept. 25, 2006, 13 months after Hurricane Katrina. But there would be no reprise of New Orleans' dominant and emotional 23-3 triumph over Atlanta a decade ago.

The Saints' depleted defense struggled to slow Freeman, who rushed for 152 yards and caught five passes for 55 yards. Coleman also was effective in the passing game out of the backfield, with three receptions for 47 yards to go with his 42 yards rushing.

"We have to stop the run better," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "They were over 200 yards in situations where you knew the run was coming, even at the end of the game."

Ryan finished with 240 yards passing for Atlanta (2-1), which did not turn the ball over and moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC South.

Drew Brees put up his usual big numbers - 376 yards and three TDs passing - and hit tight end Coby Fleener seven times for 109 yards and a TD. But Brees' tipped pass that resulted in Jones' TD return early in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons a 45-25 lead that proved too much for New Orleans to overcome.