Tebow Time looked like it was going to get an early start on Sunday but actually took place seconds after regulation ended as Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow threaded an 80-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Demarius Thomas to lead his team to a 29-23 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild card round of the 2011-12 NFL Playoffs in Denver, CO.
Tebow’s 316 yards on Sunday were both a season- and career-high, and his 80-yard strike to Thomas at the start of overtime marked both a career-long and the longest overtime touchdown in NFL history. He finished the day 10-for-21 with two touchdowns through the air and also carried the ball 10 times for 50 yards with a rushing score.
Things began to open up for Denver in the second quarter after the Broncos’ offense gained just eight yards in the first quarter and the team found itself down 6-0 to Pittsburgh on the back of two field goals. The Steelers’ defense continued put a heavy emphasis on containing the run, allowing Tebow to find some open passing lanes and gain 185 yards on 5-of-9 passing in the quarter.
He threw a 58-yard completion to Thomas and also had deep passes of 51 yards to Thomas, 30 yards to WR Eddie Royal for a touchdown, and 40 yards to tight end Daniel Fells. Tebow even ran in a touchdown from eight yards out, giving his team a 20-6 lead at the half as the team also knocked in two field goals.
Prior to Sunday, Tebow had not thrown for more than 45 yards in a second quarter and had just 123 yards combined in all of his second quarters this season.
Pittsburgh answered with a touchdown in the third quarter and the teams traded field goals in the fourth as Denver took over with a seven-point lead with under 10 minutes to play. Tebow began leading the Broncos down the field again with both his arm and legs, but running back Willis McGahee fumbled the ball after crossing midfield, giving it back to the Steelers with less than eight minutes left in the game. Pittsburgh took advantage of the miscue as QB Ben Roethlisberger tossed a 31-yard touchdown to WR Jericho Cotchery to tie the game at 23 with 3:48 remaining.
Regulation ended without either team scoring again and the game headed into overtime, which marked the first non-sudden death overtime game in NFL history.
As it turned out the new overtime rules would not be needed. Following a touchback on the kickoff, Tebow stood poised in the pocket and threw a strike across the middle to Thomas, who sprinted down the right sideline as Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium celebrated the Broncos’ first playoff victory since 2005-06.
Tebow’s postgame comments to ESPN’s Ed Werder:
Denver vice president John Elway reacts to Tebow’s game-winning play:
Photo Credit: ESPN