Broncos’ Thomas didn’t realize catch beat Steelers in 2012

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Demaryius Thomas was quick to score and slow to recognize what it meant.

On the third-year anniversary of Tim Tebow’s biggest NFL moment, Thomas said Thursday that he didn’t realize at first that his 80-yard touchdown catch on the first play of overtime had beaten Pittsburgh in that wild-card playoff game.

Thomas ended the quickest overtime in NFL history – 11 seconds – with the longest winning touchdown in any playoff game ever. His electrifying catch from Tebow sent the Broncos to a 29-23 win.

”I feel like as a player, it was somewhat like a coming out party for me because the first couple of years I was injured, wasn’t on the field much and I came back and we won in overtime, the first play, 80 yards,” Thomas said. ”I didn’t even know we won the game, but to be able to go out and put up the numbers I did that game … it was big.”

Thomas, who had four catches for 204 yards that night, said Champ Bailey had to chase him up the tunnel to tell him the game was over and that, unlike in college, the other guys wouldn’t be getting the ball back.

”Yeah, that was the first year of the new (overtime) playoff rules,” Thomas said, ”and I wasn’t probably paying attention when they talked about it.”

That rule – if one team scores a field goal on the opening possession, then the opponent would get the ball, too – never came into play because of the quick six.

A week later, Denver got blown out at New England in what turned out to be Tebow’s last game in a Broncos uniform. He was traded to the Jets when John Elway won the Peyton Manning sweepstakes two months later.

Tebow’s Denver legacy was a 9-6 record as the starter and four consecutive fourth-quarter comebacks that sent Tebowmania into a full pitch.

While Tebow’s playing career quickly faded, Thomas blossomed while working with Manning, earning three Pro Bowl berths and averaging 99 catches for 1,343 yards and 12 TDs a season.

In four playoff games with Manning, Thomas has averaged eight catches for 86 yards and a TD.

”I just know it’s either win or go home,” Thomas said, ”and I’m not ready to go home.”

The Broncos (12-4) host the Colts (12-5) Sunday.

AP NFL website: and

Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: