By Nathan Krohn
Tim Tebow took the snap and shoved the ball into Willis McGahee’s chest. Recognizing the Steelers’ safeties were cheating in to stop the run, Tebow pulled the ball out, cocked back his arm (revealing his awful mechanics), and hit Demaryius Thomas in perfect stride. One mean stiff arm later, the Mile High crowd was delirious as Thomas walked into the end zone on an 80-yard touchdown pass in overtime that beat the Steelers on Wild Card Weekend.
After backing into the playoffs with three consecutive losses few, including myself, gave the Broncos a chance to beat the favored Steelers. Despite playing in Denver, many felt the Broncos had run out of the “Tebow time magic” that lead them to a 6-1 record earlier this season.
The Steelers were heavy favorites despite a long list of injuries that included top running back Rashard Mendenhall, who was sidelined in the final game of the season with a knee injury, safety Ryan Clark, who has a sickle cell trait that prevents him from playing in the thin air of Denver, and a hobbled Ben Roethlisberger, who has been nursing a high ankle sprain for several weeks.
In the week leading up to the game Tebow was told by Broncos General Manager John Elway to be aggressive and “pull the trigger,” and he did just that, completing four passes of 30 or more yards in a quarter, the first player to do that in NFL playoff history.
The Steelers game plan was to stop the run and dare Tebow to beat them with his arm by playing a run defense the majority of the game. But in Tebow fashion, he stepped up under the bright lights and had the best game of his career, throwing for 316 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 50 yards and a touchdown.
At the end of regulation with the game tied at 23 a piece, the game entered a type overtime never before seen in the NFL. Around 20 months ago, NFL league officials decided to change the overtime rules in all NFL playoff games. Sudden deaths—first team to score wins style—were changed so that both teams would have an opportunity to possess the ball. The idea was to avoid a team winning the coin toss and going 35 yards down the field and kicking a quick field goal that ended the game. The new rule states that if the team that receives the ball first scores only a field goal, then the opposing team has the opportunity to respond. But if a touchdown is scored, the game is over.
The game between the Steelers and Broncos was the first instance the new overtime rules were in effect, and it couldn’t have been more evident, as Referee Ron Winter tried to explain in a shaky, unconfident voice to players and fans on national television.
It was so confusing that Demaryius Thomas, who caught the game-winning touchdown, didn’t even realize he had won the game until yelling teammates jumped on him.
Despite the confusion, the game was one of the most watched wild card matchups in NFL history.
After Tebow completed the pass to Thomas, he broke a sports tweet per second record with 9,420.
Tebow and the Broncos will travel to number one seeded New England to face a Patriot team that just four weeks ago embarrassed them 41-23.
The Patriots are heavily favored and well rested, but with Tebow and his incomprehensible magic, Broncos fans at this point believe anything is possible.