By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

FOXBORO (CBS) — In Tim Tebow’s preseason debut against the Eagles last week, the always-polarizing quarterback had his ups and his downs. In his follow-up performance, this time in his new football home of Gillette Stadium, the “ups” were a lot harder to come by.

The beginning was pretty good, as the home crowd welcomed Tebow to the game in the third quarter with a noticeable ovation. The final numbers, though, were ugly — 1-for-7 passing for minus-1 yard and an interception, plus 30 yards on six carries — and watching some of it play out on the field was even uglier.

He locked on to one receiver and one receiver only on a third down play, only to end up throwing the ball to nobody while never once looking at a receiver who actually was open.

He overthrew a receiver over the deep middle by about eight yards, directly hitting a Tampa Bay defensive back in the gut.

He threw to the left side, perfectly splitting the distance between two receivers running out routes about 12 yards apart.

Even his one completion, against the Bucs’ backups, was only a quick screen pass to the right side, a play that went for a one-yard loss.

So those were the negatives. As far as the positives go, his best play didn’t even count, as his 17-yard scramble on a third-and-11 was negated by a penalty.

Heading into the game, Tebow was, by all accounts, firmly sitting third on the depth chart, behind Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett. While the starter is in no danger of ever losing his starting job so long as he remains healthy, Mallett performed rather well in his playing time in the second quarter to further cement his status as the backup. Mallett started a bit slow but grew comfortable the more he played, finishing the night 12-for-20 for 137 yards and a beautiful touchdown pass to rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld. Tebow, meanwhile, never did show any comfort level in his two quarters in the second half, and he finished the night with a 0.0 quarterback rating.

While it was not the type of night Tebow could have wanted to have, he did try to focus on the positives after the 25-21 New England win.

“Yeah I feel like I’m improving every day, and growing and learning the offense, and that’s what it’s about – every day trying to get a little better,” Tebow said.

He did, however, admit to feeling frustrated when he doesn’t play as well as he’d like.

“Yeah. I think any competitor does. You want to try to score every time you get the ball. You want to make every throw. You want to get your team into the right call every play,” Tebow said. “You want to do your best and play to the best of your ability and have it all go right, and sometimes it doesn’t. You have to keep going.”

For Tebow, that means practicing Monday through Wednesday and playing the Lions in Detroit on Thursday. He’ll be focused on being better, but it’s not as if he could play much worse.

Read more from Michael Hurley by clicking here, or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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