Denver 29 – Pittsburgh 23 OT

The Tim Tebow magic was back in electrifying fashion, connecting with Demaryius Thomas on a sensational 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime and the Denver Broncos stunned the Pittsburgh Steelers 29-23 in the AFC wild-card game on Sunday.
The 9-point favorite Steelers were torched by Tebow all game and had no answers for the 2nd year quarterback who shredded the Steelers secondary for 316 yards and 2 touchdowns.
“Very thankful we were able to get the win, “ Tebow said.
On the game winning score, Thomas hauled in a play-action pass at the Denver 38, stiff-armed Ike Taylor near the 50-yard line and then outraced Ryan Mundy to the end zone.
Tebow and Thomas picked on Ike Taylor, the Steelers so called No. 1 cornerback for the most of the game, and went right at Taylor on the first play in overtime as the Steelers played the run relying on Taylor in 1-on-1 coverage and the move backfired as the Steelers now go home and avoid having to play New England in the playoffs once again. This time not for any good reasons.
The Steelers called underneath coverage and Taylor whiffed as he never kept inside positioning, something the tape will show.
“He {Demaryius Thomas} got inside of our cornerback, ” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said of Thomas winning score. “Of course, we had a number of people committed to the run. He made a nice catch and was able to break free. The catch is less of an issue than his ability to break free and the run after, ” Tomlin added who was frustrated with the Steelers inability to slow down Thomas
Thomas was sensational hauling in 4 catches for 204 yards in the game. Thomas had receptions of 58 yards, 51 yards, 15 yards and 80 yards. All with Ike Taylor in coverage who’s performance was just inexcusable in a big game situation. Thomas also produced one Ike Taylor pass interference call of 32 yards and an Ike Taylor defensive holding call.
Tebow had touchdown passes of 80 and 30 yards and rushed for an 8 yard touchdown. He went 10 of 21 for 316 yards, 2 touchdowns, 125.6 QB rating and averaged 15 yards per pass. The big passing plays were there all day for Tebow as the Steelers got little pressure until late in the game.
Overall, Tebow and the Broncos had passing plays of 80 yards, 58 yards, 51 yards, 30 yards, and 40 yards. Something no one imagined happening today. Tebow’s passer rating of 125.6 was a Broncos franchise record.
“Denver made the significant plays, particularly the chunks that allowed them to win, ” Tomlin said. “We accept responsibility for that like we have through, many, many legs of this journey this year, but we fell short.”
For all of Tebow’s heroics, the Steelers rallied in the second half after an awful first half, and had an opportunity to win the game in the final minutes with the ball in Denver territory.
Trailing 23-16, a Ryan Mundy forced fumble at the Pittsburgh 44 with 7:35 remaining in the 4th quarter saved the Steelers season at the time as Denver was driving 1st and 10 and Willis McGahee fumbled on an 8 yard run and LaMarr Woodley recovered.
Pittsburgh went 7-plays, 55 yards and Ben Roethlisberger threw a 31 yard touchdown strike to Jerricho Cotchery on a 2nd and 10 play, as Cotchery made a sensational grab tying the game at 23-23 with 3:48 remaining. Pittsburgh forced Denver to punt on the Broncos next possession and the Steelers took over at their own 24 yard line with 1:37 and two timeouts.
Pittsburgh drove down the field on passing plays of 17 and 18 yards to Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, setting up a 1st and 10 at Denver’s 45 yard line with 29 seconds remaining. On the next play though, Roethlisberger was sacked for minus-11 yards by Elvis Dumervil and the game went to overtime where we know what happened next.
Roethlisberger was sacked 5 times in the loss, while Pittsburgh had 0 sacks in the game. Ben was not effective in the first half but rebounded in the second half as the Steelers scored 17 second half points with a 1 yard Mike Wallace touchdown run, 31 yard touchdown reception by Jerricho Cotchery and a 37 yard field goal by Shaun Suisham. Suisham was 3-for-3 in the game, hitting a long of 45 yards. Pittsburgh outscored Denver 17-3 in the second half.
Roethlisberger who entered the game with a 10-3 playoff record and 3-0 on the road, was outplayed by Tebow and went 22 of 40 for 289 yards with 1 touchdown, 1 interception and a 75.9 QB rating.
A bright spot in the loss for Steelers was running back Isaac Redman who had a career day rushing for 121 yards on 17 carries.
Broncos head coach John Fox improves to 3-0 all-time in wildcard games. Head coach Mike Tomlin is 0-2 all-time in wildcard games.
Denver outgained Pittsburgh 447-to-400.