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Tebow suffered rib, lung, chest injuries, played vs. Pats anyway

Tim Tebow needs more R&R than anyone thought.

The Denver Broncos quarterback played through rib, lung and chest injuries he sustained during Saturday's 45-10 loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC divisional playoffs.

Tebow won't need surgery and is expected to make a full recovery with some down time. His offseason training program shouldn't be affected in any way.

ESPN first reported Wednesday that Tebow was hurt on a third-quarter tackle, then had trouble sleeping because of the pain and underwent an MRI on his chest Monday.

Broncos spokesman Patrick Smyth said that while he couldn't confirm the exact extent or nature of the injuries due to team policy, he acknowledged that Tebow finished the game in considerable pain.

Had the Broncos defeated the Patriots, Tebow likely wouldn't have been able to play in the AFC Championship Game, a source told The Denver Post.

Backup Brady Quinn quickly got ready to go in Saturday after Tebow was hit by Vince Wilfork and Rob Ninkovich. But Tebow stayed in and finished up the game.

"It's just the physicality of playing football," Tebow said afterward. "Sometimes you get hit, and it can hurt a little bit. But I wanted to play a lot of the game."

The outcome had long been decided by the time Tebow was hurt.

"I just wanted to show character," Tebow said. "You just continue to fight, and it doesn't change who you are, how you play, how you go out there, you should be the same at all times. That's what I wanted to show. It didn't matter if it was the first play or the last play or you were down by 42. I was going to be the same player, and I was still going to give everything I have. Because that's all I have to give."

Tebow wasn't in the locker room during a one-hour media window Sunday, emerging with a smile from the trainer's room as reporters were filing out as the players streamed to their end-of-season meeting with coach John Fox.

On Monday, Broncos executive John Elway declared Tebow the incumbent starting quarterback entering training camp next summer and reiterated his plan to work with the quarterback during the offseason to help polish his passing game.

Tebow went 8-5 as the Broncos' starter after supplanting Kyle Orton following a 1-4 start. Tebow engineered a six-game winning streak, including four consecutive fourth-quarter comebacks that sent Tebowmania into full pitch. He faded at the end, losing his last three regular-season starts, but he threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas on the first play of overtime for a 29-23 wild-card playoff win over the heavily favored Pittsburgh Steelers and the NFL's top-ranked defense.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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