Overtime became Tebow Time for the Denver Broncos.
Tim Tebow hit Demaryius Thomas with an 80-yard touchdown strike on the first play of overtime to lift the Denver Broncos to a stunning 29-23 victory over the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers in Sunday's AFC wild card game.
Thomas caught Tebow's pass on a crossing pass over the middle, stiff-armed Pittsburgh's Ike Taylor and outraced two defenders down the right sideline to the end zone.
Tebow, who had lost his previous three starts, improved to 8-4 as a starter and earned the Broncos (9-8) a rematch with the top-seeded Patriots on Saturday night at New England.
It was the fourth completion of over 40 yards on the day for Tebow, who was implored by boss John Elway to "pull the trigger" and responded by throwing for a career-high 316 yards, including touchdown passes to Eddie Royal and Thomas.
Four of Tebow's passes went to Thomas for 204 yards, including a 51- and 58-yarder that set up Denver's first two touchdowns and sent the Broncos into halftime with a 20-6 halftime lead.
The quick strike also didn't give the teams a chance to test the NFL's new overtime rules, under which both teams had to possess the ball unless one scored a touchdown on its first possession.
Denver, which played Pittsburgh in the first regular-season overtime game in NFL history in September 1974, improved to 13-3 at home in the postseason.
The Broncos had made a habit of late-quarter theatrics behind Tebow, who directed six second-half comebacks this season in helping Denver dig out of a 1-4 start to the season.
Instead, Denver had to hold off the Steelers (12-5) and Ben Roethlisberger, who tied the game with a 31-yard scoring pass to Jerricho Cotchery with 3:48 left in regulation.
Denver was clinging to a 23-16 lead when running back Willis McGahee fumbled near midfield and Ryan Mundy recovered at Pittsburgh's 45-yard line with 7 1/2 minutes to play.
Roethlisberger needed seven plays to convert that turnover into the tying touchdown, scrambling to his right before finding Cotchery in the end zone.
Both teams had another possession in regulation but could not get into position for a possible winning field goal.
Pittsburgh's Isaac Redman rushed for 121 yards and Roethlisberger finished 22 of 40 for 289 with one TD and one interception in dropping to 10-4 in the playoffs.
The Steelers, despite settling for a pair of field goals, were in total control after one quarter, racking up 110 yards and holding Denver to only eight.
Everything turned for the Broncos after wide receiver Eric Decker suffered a knee injury on the first play of the second quarter and had to be helped off the field.
Tebow connected on a 51-yard bomb to Thomas before finding Royal in the right corner of the end zone for a 7-6 lead - Denver's first TD in 22 possessions.
Another Tebow-to-Thomas connection, this time for 58 yards, set up Tebow's 8-yard scoring run for a 14-6 lead with 10 1/2 minutes left in the half.
The Broncos had a chance to blow the game open, twice driving deep inside Pittsburgh territory, but wound up with field goals of 20 and 28 yards by Matt Prater for a 20-6 halftime edge.
Tebow finished the first 30 minutes 5 of 11 for 185 yards and a 122.3 passer rating. He failed to throw for more yardage in eight of his first 11 starts this season.