DENVER — One of the most storied NFL playoff teams ran into a rejuvenated Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos.
Sorry, Pittsburgh Steelers.
The magic is back.
Tebow connected with former Georgia Tech star Demaryius Thomas on an electrifying 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime and the Broncos defeated the stunned Steelers 29-23 in the AFC wild-card game Sunday. Wild doesn’t begin to describe it. The play took 11 seconds and was the quickest ending to an overtime in NFL history.
Thomas hauled in a high play-action pass at the Denver 38, stiff-armed Ike Taylor and then outraced Ryan Mundy to the end zone. Tebow, who looked as startled as everyone else, chased down Thomas and knelt on one knee – a gesture known far and wide these days as Tebowing. Then he pounded a fist in triumph and took a victory lap.
“When I saw him scoring, first of all, I just thought, ‘Thank you, Lord,’” Tebow said. “Then, I was running pretty fast, chasing him – Like I can catch up to D.T! Then I just jumped into the stands, first time I’ve done that. That was fun. Then, got on a knee and thanked the Lord again and tried to celebrate with my teammates and the fans.”
Prodded by John Elway to let the ball fly, Tebow acted as if the past three weeks never happened, lifting the Broncos to their first playoff win in six years.
Behind Tebow’s 316 yards passing, the Broncos (9-8) are heading to New England for a second-round game against the top-seeded Patriots on Saturday night.
“We’re just a fighting team. A lot of resilience,” Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey said.
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.
Tebow completed 10 of 21 passes but Thomas hauled in four of them for a career-high 204 yards.
Tebow also ran 10 times for 50 yards.