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Tebow's 80-yard TD pass in OT lifts Broncos

DENVER -- One of the most storied NFL playoff teams ran into a rejuvenated Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos.

Sorry, Pittsburgh Steelers.

The magic is back.

Tebow connected with Demaryius Thomas on an electrifying 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime as the Broncos defeated the stunned Steelers, 29-23, in an AFC wild-card game Sunday night.

Wild doesn't begin to describe it. The play took 11 seconds and was the quickest ending to an overtime in NFL history. The Broncos are 4-0 this season in overtime games.

Thomas caught a play-action pass at the Denver 38, stiff-armed Ike Taylor and outraced Ryan Mundy to the end zone. "I was just saying, 'Man, trust your speed. Trust your speed. Don't cut back. Don't cut back.' And he kept it straight. He outran the guy," said Willis McGahee, whose fumble had helped Pittsburgh tie it. "I was like, 'Oh my God, is he still running? Please just go. Please. Please.' "

Tebow, who looked as startled as everyone else, chased down Thomas and knelt on one knee -- a gesture known far and wide these days as Tebowing. Then he pounded a fist in triumph and took a victory lap.

"When I saw him scoring, first of all, I just thought, 'Thank you, Lord,' " Tebow said. "Then I was running pretty fast, chasing him -- like I can catch up to D.T! Then I just jumped into the stands, first time I've done that. That was fun. Then, got on a knee and thanked the Lord again and tried to celebrate with my teammates and the fans."

Prodded by Broncos executive vice president John Elway to "pull the trigger'' and let the ball fly in the playoffs, Tebow acted as if his recent slump had never happened. Behind his 316 passing yards, the fourth-seeded Broncos earned the right to face the top-seeded Patriots in an AFC divisional game Saturday night. Tebow ran 10 times for 50 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown, and also threw a 30-yard TD pass to Eddie Royal. Said McGahee, "He showed he's a quarterback in the NFL, case closed."

Tebow completed 10 of 21 passes and Thomas hauled in four of them for 204 yards. Tebow's top target, Eric Decker, was lost to a left knee injury on the first play of the second quarter when he was hit by linebacker James Harrison.

It was the Broncos' second playoff win since Elway retired after his second straight Super Bowl triumph in January 1999 and their first since Jan. 14, 2006, when they handed the Patriots' Tom Brady his first playoff loss.

"We're just a fighting team. A lot of resilience," Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey said. "In any adverse situation, we'll find a way to get out of it.''

Ben Roethlisberger rallied the Steelers from a 20-6 halftime deficit with 10 points in the final 10 minutes. Steelers receiver Mike Wallace had a 1-yard TD run, Shaun Suisham kicked a field goal and former Jet Jerricho Cotchery grabbed a 31-yard TD pass with 3:48 left to tie it.

The two teams played the first regular-season overtime game Sept. 22, 1974, in Denver. This time they played the first non-sudden-death overtime playoff game in history. The new rules called for both teams to get the ball in the extra period provided there wasn't a touchdown by either the offense or defense. But Thomas took care of that.

New York Sports