Broncos' overtime stunner sinks Steelers
January 10, 2012, 12:24 am TWN
DENVER -- Denver quarterback Tim Tebow connected on an electrifying 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime to give the Broncos a stunning 29-23 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC wild-card game on Sunday.
Demaryius Thomas hauled in the pass at the Denver 38, stiff-armed one defender and then outraced another to the end zone. The whole play took just 11 seconds of overtime, making it the quickest ending to an extra period in NFL history.
Tebow, who looked as startled as everyone else, headed for his own end zone and knelt on one knee to give thanks to God — a gesture known far and wide these days as Tebowing. Then he pounded a fist in triumph and took a victory lap.
Tebow's 316 yards passing for the game was the key to moving the Broncos (9-8) into the second round of the playoffs next Saturday, when they will travel to play the top-seeded New England Patriots.
The Steelers (12-5) lost despite Ben Roethlisberger rallying injury-depleted Pittsburgh from a two-touchdown halftime deficit with 10 points in the final 10 minutes.
Pittsburgh's rally was lost in the frenzy at Sports Authority Field as Thomas raced down the sideline for the winning score.
The delirium extended to the box of Broncos executive vice president John Elway, who was the quarterback architect of so many of the great moments at the old Mile High Stadium back in the 1990s, and was literally jumping for joy Sunday.
Tebow completed only 10 of 21 passes but Thomas hauled in four of them for 204 yards after his prime receiver Eric Decker was lost to a left knee injury on the first play of the second quarter.
The Broncos snapped a three-game losing streak that had many wondering if they were even worthy of their first playoff in six seasons, and it kept the Steelers from their 34th playoff win, which would have broken a tie with the Cowboys for the most ever.
Tebow led Denver to 20 second-quarter points but a 20-6 halftime lead didn't last long.
Steelers receiver Mike Wallace had a 1-yard TD run, Shaun Suisham kicked a short field goal and Jerricho Cotchery grabbed a 31-yard TD pass with 3:48 left in regulation to tie it and send the game to overtime.