2012 NFL Playoffs: Tim Tebow's Overtime Pass Grows Legend, Beats Steelers

Jimmy GrapponeCorrespondent IJanuary 8, 2012

Tim Tebow (15) played like a boss in Denver's playoff win over the Steelers.
Tim Tebow (15) played like a boss in Denver's playoff win over the Steelers.Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Drive. The Fumble. And now, Tim Tebow and The Pass.

The first two refer to historic moments in Denver Broncos history from the 1987 and 1988 AFC Championship games against the Cleveland Browns and are among the most famous in NFL history.

The third is still fresh on the minds of Broncos fanatics and Tebow-maniacs everywhere who still cannot believe the fashion in which Denver won its first-round playoff game.

However, each could have taken on a negative connotation had the outcome of the Broncos' (9-8) wild-card win over the Pittsburgh Steelers (12-5) taken a different path.


Ancient History

The Drive is forever etched in Broncos' lore as the epic 98-yard, 4th-quarter, John Elway-led march to tie the 1987 AFC Championship game at 20 apiece. Denver went on to defeat the Cleveland Browns, 23-20, en route to Denver's first Super Bowl appearance of the Elway era.

Save the defensive heroics of Von Miller and Champ Bailey, The Drive II could have been the name affiliated with a game-winning Pittsburgh drive at the end of regulation in Sunday's AFC Wild Card game.

The Fumble occured in the 1988 AFC Championship when the Browns' Ernest Byner fumbled the ball at the Denver 2-yard-line late in the game with the Broncos clinging to a 7-point lead. The Broncos recovered the football and defeated Cleveland in the AFC Championship game for the second consecutive year, 38-33.


However, it was Willis McGahee's fourth-quarter fumble in Sunday's AFC Wild Card game which gave Pittsburgh the ball and the allowed them to tie the game with just under four minutes to go in regulation.


Rewriting the Books

"The Pass," or whatever we end up calling the Tim Tebow-to-DeMaryius Thomas pass, catch stiff-arm and touchdown-scoring run on the first play of overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers, took place in Sunday's AFC Wild Card game.

After holding on for dear life to keep the Steelers out of field goal range at the end of regulation, the Broncos won the overtime coin-flip and elected to receive the ball when Pittsburgh captain James Farrior called for tails.

One touchback and an 80-yard scoring catch-and-run on a slant route by Thomas (4 catches, 204 yards) later and the game was over with the Broncos 29-23 winners.

And just like The Drive and The Fumble, which took place in my formative years as a Broncos fanatic, I will never forget where I was or what I was doing when I watched Tebow, Thomas and the Denver defense lead one of the most exciting games and one of the biggest wins in my team's 51-year history.




Tebow For a Long Time?

Tim Tebow has been the story in the NFL since he replaced Kyle Orton as the Broncos' quarterback in Week 7 and quickly became one of the most popular and polarizing players in league history.

Tebow struggled to throw the ball accurately all season, completing only 46.5-percent of his passes, but he lead the Broncos to a 7-1 record in his first eight starts before Denver lost its last three games of the season.

In his first ever playoff start against the Steelers, he completed only 10-of-21 passes, but those 10 completions were good for 316 yards and two scores, including the game-winner to Thomas. 

Tebow also ran for a touchdown in the first-half.

Yep, as sure as John Denver is a country boy, "The Legend of Tim Tebow: is real and forever cemented in Denver Broncos history.

And now that he's led his team to a victory in the NFL Playoffs, he may stick around and play quarterback a bit longer, too.