The PJ Tatler

How Rick Perry May be Like Tim Tebow

Last night, Broncos QB Tim Tebow did it again.

It didn’t matter that Rex Ryan’s defense had suffocated maybe the most unconventional quarterback ever for 54 minutes.

It didn’t matter that Gang Green had dominated the Broncos signal caller so thoroughly for more than 3-1/2 quarters that the statistics were borderline laughable: The Jets defense had forced seven three-and-outs during an eight-drive stretch spanning the second and third quarters. With six minutes left in the game, Tebow had completed just six passes for 69 yards.

None of that mattered.Tebow came to life with everything on the line to hand the Jets a crushing 17-13 loss that puts a cloud over Gang Green’s chances of making the postseason. The lefthanded quarterback engineered a 12-play, 95-yard drive capped by a 20-yard touchdown run with 58 seconds to go to stun the Jets (5-5). Tebow had six rushes for 57 yards on the game-winning drive.

I’m a Cowboys fan but it’s hard not to admire what Tebow keeps pulling off. Tebow has won four out of five of his games as Denver quarterback, taking his team from 1-4 to an even 5-5. Defenses can own him for long stretches of the game but in the end it doesn’t matter. He can look terrible, play awful, and lead his offense nowhere. But when the game is on the line, the quarterback whose faith has made him both a hero and a goat works another miracle. Broncos 17, Jets 13.

At the moment, Rick Perry is nowhere in the polls. The latest polls have Herman Cain or Newt Gingrich leading, with Romney near the top and Perry sitting in about fourth or fifth. Cain will flame out. He is the Huckabee of this race, an affable man whose total lack of foreign policy acumen will catch up with him. The pattern of the primary so far has been one of rises and falls, and right now Gingrich is rising. That means his record will undergo more scrutiny. We’re hearing about his life as a Washington insider now, and being reminded of his deviations from the conservative canon. That’s natural, part of the process. If there is a big surprise lurking in his record, it will come out.

Meanwhile, the man who is nowhere in the polls is running a three-pronged attack that’s unconventional but may yet work. The first prong centers on major policy proposals (Perry has offered three, each grander in scope than the one before); the second centers on rapid reaction video ads to take advantage of opposition gaffes (this week’s “Lazy” ad hammered President Obama’s comment about American business); and the third involves generating free media by challenging opposition figures (challenging Nancy Pelosi to a debate, knowing that she would decline but that he could generate free headlines from the challenge).

Will it work? At this point the safe bet is to say that it won’t. He’s too far down in the polls and time is short. Debate fumbles have cost him. But the arc of this primary has been rises and falls within about a month. We’re about six weeks from Iowa. That’s plenty of time for a rise and a fall and an unconventional last-minute game-winning drive. Perry has money, a strategy and a little bit left on the clock. He’s 9-0 in his political career so far. So I wouldn’t count him out just yet.