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NFL rules prohibit it, but Tebow was known for playing with Bible verses on his face in college. Photo by

The Denver Broncos’ performance Saturday night was mostly forgettable, but people are still talking about the commercial by local ministry Focus on the Family that aired during the playoff game against the New England Patriots.

The message: the Bible verse John 3:16, which Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow used to paint on his face in college.

Tebow, who was featured in a previous Focus commercial and maintains ties with the Christian ministry, did not appear in the ad. But he was its inspiration.

“The week before, when the Broncos beat the Steelers and Tim threw for 316 yards, it took the Internet a nanosecond to start making references to John 3:16,” Focus spokesman Gary Schneeberger said Monday.

Perhaps the most widely-quoted Bible verse, it reads, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

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It became a top Internet search term after the victory over the Steelers, and last Tuesday Focus quickly began filming the commercial, which features kids of Focus staffers and friends reciting the verse. Schneeberger said it was paid for by a donor who gave money specifically for the ad. He declined to reveal the cost.

“It really is the essence of the Christian Gospel, that verse,” Schneeberger said. “The whole purpose of doing the commercial was to point out that there are some numbers that are more important than those on the scoreboard.”

The ad quickly became a trending topic on Twitter, and Focus’s website received 300,000 weekend visitors, up from 159,000 the weekend before. Two posts on Focus’s Facebook page about the ad had 851 and 1,363 comments by Monday night, with 11,626 “likes.” The video has been seen 320,000 times on YouTube.

Focus won’t air the ad during the Super Bowl, unlike an anti-abortion ad featuring Tebow in 2010. Schneeberger said all commercial airtime for the big game is long since taken.But the commercial may be shown again on television.

“It’s a good ad about the good news of Jesus Christ, so there’s a good chance you’ll see it again,” he said.—Contact R. Scott Rappold:476-1605 Twitter @scottrappoldFacebook Gazette Scott Rappold

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