Most of us, even those of us who had turned to full Tebowmania, had begun to think the magic of that six game winning streak was a fluke. The Tim Tebow era was about to go out with a whimper after Tebow and the Denver Broncos dropped their final three games to close out the regular season.
Somehow, the rest of the AFC West collapsed to close out the season too and the Broncos slid in the backdoor to win the division. At 8-8 they were to host the 12-4 Pittsburgh Steelers who were the defending AFC Champions the year before and had the leagues top defense. And one more chance for the magic of Tebow to resurface.
Shockingly, Tebow became a functional passer and led Denver out to a 20-6 halftime lead. Early in the second quarter, Tebow found Demaryius Thomas deep for a 51 yard gain on third and 12, then two plays later hit Eddie Royal deep for a 30 yard touchdown pass. Both passes were on the money.
Then on their next drive, Tebow struck again finding Thomas deep again for a 58 yard gain and would end up capping the drive himself on an 8-yard quarterback run up the middle.
The moment of the first half faded, however, as the Steelers would surge back to tie the game late after a 31-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Jerricho Cotchery. That set the stage for a dramatic overtime showdown.
2011 was the first year the NFL implemented new overtime rules for the playoffs. Each team would be able to possess the ball unless the other team scored a touchdown or safety. All Tebow and Thomas needed was one play from scrimmage. 80 yards later the Broncos were advancing to the next round of the playoffs in an improbably 29-23 win.
Thomas finished the game with just four receptions, but for 204 yards and that overtime touchdown. He and Tebow completely demolished the Steelers secondary.
A few days after this incredible win, one of the greatest Broncos fan YouTube videos ever made dropped. It encapsulated so well the reactions of Broncos fans everywhere during that incredible moment. The little kid in the living room screaming “yes” brought me back to my childhood during the Elway years. Worth watching again for the memories!
On to the next week! We are closing out the fun Tim Tebow era and moving on to the incredible Peyton Manning era. That will take more than a week to get through, though.