Tim Tebow and Demaryius Thomas once beat the Steelers in the playoffs

QB Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos scrambles to pass the ball to Demaryius Thomas #88 (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
QB Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos scrambles to pass the ball to Demaryius Thomas #88 (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) /

With former Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas announcing his retirement, it’s a good time to remember that one time when Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Tim Tebow (then a quarterback) connected with the four-time Pro Bowler for a touchdown pass in overtime to knock the Pittsburgh Steelers out of the playoffs.

The 2010 first-round pick recently announced he’s calling it quits after playing in the NFL for ten seasons. Thomas spent most of his career in Denver but was traded to the Houston Texans in the middle of the 2018 season. He then signed with the New England Patriots in 2019 but was dealt to the New York Jets before the season started. The veteran wide receiver has been a free agent since 2020, something that surely played a factor in his decision to retire.

Thomas appeared in 143 games with 128 starts and hauled in 724 receptions for 9,763 yards and touchdowns. Although those may not be Hall-of-Fame numbers, the Georgia Tech product was one of the most prolific receivers in the Broncos’ history, ranking second in receiving yards behind Rod Smith. Moreover, he made history, along with Tebow, back in 2011, when the Broncos upset the Steelers in the AFC Wild Card game.

In that game, the Florida product didn’t play well, statistically speaking, completing just nine passes before the game went to overtime. However, he made a big play when it mattered the most. He threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Thomas to win the game 29-23. Although the Broncos came crashing down against the Patriots the following week, this play will go down as one of the greatest moments in NFL history.

Tim Tebow and Demaryius Thomas were part of an iconic play.

When recalling the play, Tebow says he was on the sidelines, talking to then-Broncos quarterback coach Adam Gase. They were discussing the play they wanted to run, a backside post route.

"Usually, we run it from under center but we thought, what if we run this backside play-action post from the gun? It was the first time we’ve ever run it exactly like that, and it was zero, 1 zip, right 4, 34 flash thimble."

Tebow says that when they got to the line of scrimmage, he saw Steelers safety Troy Polamalu down in the box. He then tracked the other safety coming down in the box and thought that one of them was going to roll back but neither one did. The quarterback knew at that moment he had a big play. He recalls Thomas’ stiff-arm to cornerback Ike Taylor while running down the sidelines, “it was just chaos from there”.

Tebow was traded to the Jets in 2012 and is currently attempting a comeback and trying to switch positions. On the other hand, Thomas went on to see his production increase with quarterback Peyton Manning at the helm. Looking back, their careers took different paths, but for one game, they achieved something great.

Thomas’ retirement gives us the chance to reflect on a great career, one that including Tim Tebow’s biggest play as a quarterback in the NFL.

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