CINCINNATI — Fans booed. Flashes went off. Tim Tebow had arrived in the NFL. With a much better haircut and a touchdown, no less.
The rookie quarterback from Florida made his first pre-season appearance Sunday night, and got into the end zone on the final play of a 33-24 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Tebow went 8-for-13 for 105 yards in the second half, with most of the completions and yards coming on the final drive against a soft defense. That one ended with Tebow scrambling 7 yards for a touchdown, running over safety Kyries Hebert to score as time expired.
Kyle Orton was impressive in his pre-season debut, throwing two touchdown passes in three series and reminding Broncos fans that he's the one running the offense if not selling the most jerseys.
The Broncos have set several attendance records at training camp — a measure of how quickly Tebowmania has caught on.
When he took off his horse-head helmet, Tebow showed a new look. The friar haircut was gone.
Teammate and former Kentucky linebacker Wesley Woodyard buzzed the top of his head in a rookie ritual during camp, giving him a tonsured 'do that was instantly circulated in the media. For his debut, he trimmed the sides of his head as well, a more traditional look.
Tebow is competing with former Browns quarterback Brady Quinn to be Orton's backup. Neither one did much to distinguish himself.
Quinn got the first chance and looked much like he did in Cleveland. Playing with backups on the field for both teams, Quinn was off-target and forced throws.
Cincinnati wanted to see more out of its starting offense, which went nowhere during a 16-7 loss to Dallas in the Hall of Fame game a week earlier. The second time around, it was much better.
Carson Palmer got plenty of time to throw and went 12-for-15 for 105 yards in three series, leading the Bengals to one touchdown. It wasn't his fault that there weren't more points.
Terrell Owens caught four passes for 23 yards, but had two bad moments. A third-down pass sailed past TO's hands, forcing Cincinnati to settle for a 44-yard field goal attempt that Dave Rayner missed. Owens also caught a fourth-down pass beyond the yard marker, but doubled back while trying for more yards and was tackled short of the first down.
"It wasn't perfect, but it was better than last week, and that's what we're looking to do — improve every week," Palmer said.
Bengals starting center Kyle Cook hurt his left ankle late in the first quarter and didn't return.
Woodyard had five tackles for Denver. Johnny Williams, also a former Wildcat, added three.