"I've been on a lot of really good teams, thank God, and I felt this team was up there with them," Polamalu said. "We weren't able to stay healthy and keep a cohesiveness like we wanted to."
Tebow completed 10 of 21 passes and Thomas hauled in four of them for 204 yards after Decker was injured on a hit by linebacker James Harrison.
Thomas, who missed training camp while recovering from a torn Achilles and the start of the season while dealing with a fractured finger, has come on strong of late, averaging 109 yards over the last six games.
But the Broncos' top pick in 2010 — taken three slots ahead of Tebow in the first round — hadn't had done anything like this.
"It's amazing because I haven't played explosive like I did in college in a long time," Thomas said.
Tebow threw two TD passes and also ran 10 times for 50 yards and a touchdown.
"I think we executed a little bit better. We tried to step up," he said. "We knew it was win or go home. This team wanted to fight. We wanted to play another game."
These two teams had played the first ever regular season overtime game on Sept. 22, 1974, in Denver. Now, they played the first non-sudden death playoff game in history. The new rules called for both teams to get the ball in the extra period providing there wasn't a touchdown by either the offense or defense.
Tebow took care of that in a hurry.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Making his first appearance in the playoffs after going 7-4 as Denver's starter, Tebow outplayed Roethlisberger, a two-time Super Bowl winner playing on a bad ankle, who fell to 10-4 in the playoffs.
Roethlisberger was 22 for 40 for 289 yards with one TD, one interception and five sacks. Tebow wasn't taken down once by the league's top defense.
The Broncos snapped a three-game losing streak that had many wondering if they were even worthy of their first playoff in six seasons, and it kept the Steelers from their 34th playoff win, which would have broken a tie with the Cowboys for the most ever.
Tebow led Denver to 20 second-quarter points — they had scored just 13 in the quarter in his 11 starts — but a 20-6 halftime lead didn't last long.
Receiver Mike Wallace had a 1-yard TD run, Shaun Suisham kicked a short field goal and Jerricho Cotchery grabbed a 31-yard TD pass with 3:48 left in regulation to tie it.
The Steelers were nearing field goal range in the final minute of regulation but the Broncos sacked Roethlisberger three times on that final drive, forcing a fumble that Roethlisberger recovered.
"We were moving it and we had a shot," Roethlisberger said. "Someone got, it felt like a finger, on the ball and knocked it out. After that, you're trying to throw a 70-yard Hail Mary and that's hard."
Roethlisberger never got the ball back as Tebow added to his growing list of impossible victories in the blink of an eye and a flick of the wrist.
"He gets a lot of flak when things go wrong," Clark said, "but he played phenomenal today."
Notes: This was the Broncos' second playoff win since Elway retired following his second straight Super Bowl triumph in 1999, and their first since Jan. 14, 2006, when they handed Tom Brady his first playoff loss. The Broncos lost to the Steelers the following week. ... This was the first OT playoff game since the Saints beat the Vikings 31-28 in the NFC championship on Jan. 24, 2010.
PFT: Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith said the draft process taught him an important lesson on taking criticism.
Y! Sports: Redskins fans found what appeared to be the wedding registry for Robert Griffin III and fiancee Rebecca Liddicoat, and they helped out their star QB.
2013 SNF Schedule
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