After a string of miraculous finishes, quarterback Tim Tebow's winning streak ended Sunday when the Denver Broncos were soundly beaten by the New England Patriots.
But, observes Tony Guida, one defeat isn't likely to turn people away from what may be the biggest story of the National Football League season.
Tebow took the field Sunday on the wings of an improbable winning streak, and a prayer for it to continue.
He gave the faithful an early gift, slipping free of what looked like a sure tackle to score the game's first touchdown. But his miracles ended there. Tebow fumbled. His teammates did too. Repeatedly. The Patriots capitalized on every mistake and built a fourth-quarter lead even Tebow's magic couldn't overcome.
Faith or fate - or opposition foul-ups - had produced a mind-bending string of last second-victories since Tebow took over at quarterback, as his team matured from curiosity into contender, on the will of a man of deep religious faith.
Tebow's routine of genuflecting in prayer has imitators everywhere.
On Long Island recently, two high school football players were suspended for "Tebowing," as it's called, after some 40 classmates blocked a hallway.
Tebowmania's cultural saturation is so strong, it merited a skit on NBC's "Saturday Night Live," in which the Tebow character was asked by an actor playing Jesus to tone down his act a bit.
And a website just two months old has taken Tebowing worldwide, with people everywhere posting pictures of themselves on one knee -- in Afghanistan, at the South Pole, even underwater.
Nathan Whitaker, co-author of Tebow's best-selling memoir, "Through My Eyes," says the passion of "Tebow-nation" likely won't be cooled by just one loss.
"I expect they're still pretty excited," Whitaker told "Early Show" co-anchor Chris Wragge. "He's just such a great kid and doing a great job, and I'm sure that the Broncos have a lot of bright spots in their future."
Whitaker says Tebow's run, and people's fascination with him, have been "really amazing" And somewhat "surprising, sure. The one thing that makes some sense to me is just what a good kid he is. (He's) just so likeable, so appealing to people, such a great role model, so that part of it makes sense, but to the level it's reached, it is pretty unique."
Is the appeal rooted in Tebow's saying all the right things and continuing to credit his teammates over himself?
"That is a huge part of it,' Whitaker says. "It was really hard to write a memoir with a guy who won't talk about himself! His parents raised him on Proverbs 27-2, which says, let another person praise you. So, trying to draw out of Tim -- we never talked about most of the awards he won. He won so many. And he was saying, why am I going to put these in a book? So, anyway, same thing with hospital visits -- he does so many good things and he said I didn't do that so we could write about it."