Tim Tebow celebrates after Denver's defeat of Pittsburgh. Photo via the Denver Broncos
For the Denver Broncos, who eeked their way into the playoffs, defeating the Steelers’ league leading defense and the more experienced playoff team was an unlikely scenario. Not to mention the fact that they team they would face featured a quarterback who was 3-0 in road games in the playoffs.
Yes, the Broncos had their work cut out for them. They seemed to face an insurmountable task. But that is exactly why the legend that has become Tim Tebow and the 2011 Denver team continues to grow. The young quarterback, who lacks the passing precision of the prototypical NFL quarterback, somehow just keeps finding ways to lead his team to victory.
To be fair, that has not been the case all season. The reason why Denver didn’t make it to the playoffs until the last minute is because they dropped the last three games in the regular season.
But boy, did the Broncos find a way to bounce back.
The first quarter largely as expected, with Denver trailing Pittsburgh 3-0 at the end of the first quarter. But Denver owned the second quarter, first scoring with a 19-yard TD pass to Eddie Royal, and then an 8-yard rushing touchdown by Tebow, in addition to a field goal to lead the Steelers 20-6 at the half.
While injuries were clearly having an impact on the Steelers, they came out swinging in the 2nd half. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger connected with WR Mike Wallace for a 1-yard touchdown pass in the 3rd quarter and connected with wideout Jerricho Cotchery for a 31-yarder in the 4th. With a field goal also in the 4th quarter to match a FG put up by Denver, the game was tied at 23 a piece.
Overtime in the playoffs. Does anything get better than that?
You just wait…
The play that will define this game now and for years to come was the 80-yard touchdown play from Tebow to WR Demaryius Thomas on the opening play of OT. It was a wonder to behold. And with that, the Broncos had won the game 29-23, just 11 seconds into overtime. The fastest overtime defeat in the history of the NFL.
All the Steelers could do was watch, absolutely stunned.
Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, nothing clicked the entire game. Roethlisberger’s injury proved to be too much for the Steelers’ offense to overcome. The defense allowed 447 yards and permitted Tebow to have an impressive passing game, throwing for 316 yards and 10/21 with 2 touchdowns for a passer rating of–get this–125.6.
And so the legend of Tebow and the 2011 Broncos team continues to grow as the team faces the Patriots in Boston in the NFC Divisional round next Saturday.
Brandyn Campbell is Senior NFL Editor for Aerys Sports and Philadelphia Eagles reporter for Philly Sports Muse. You can follow her on Twitter at @sports_muse.