Sometimes the NFL makes you think it's all staged and put on by movie directors. And a few times this season those moments have involved Tim Tebow. The Denver Broncos quarterback is the main reason we'll remember Sunday's AFC Wild Card game for a long time.
He and the Denver Broncos were eight point 'dogs against Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night but Tebow was able to hit big play after big play (especially in the second quarter). And finally, as if it came from a movie, Tebow hit a streaking Demaryius Thomas for what turned into an 80-yard game winner on the first play of overtime.
Over in the NFC, the Falcons couldn't handle the Giants defense and lost to New York, 24-2. It didn't have nearly the excitement of the Steelers-Broncos game because the Giants controlled this one early on.
Wild Card weekend in the NFL is finally over and we'll do it again next weekend with four games in the Divisional round. For now, here's a look back at Sunday's Wild Card games.
The Giants defense is too good for Atlanta. That's what this game really comes down to -- the New York defense dominated Atlanta, basically pitching a shutout. The Giants offense was nice but the real story is their suffocating defense, which is peaking at the right time.
Giants win their first home playoff game since 2000. Which means it's Eli Manning's first home playoff win in his career. Weird to think about it like that considering the Giants won the Super Bowl in 2007. That was a Wild Card team that made their playoff run all on the road.
SI.com: Report card from the Giants' win
Best part of the game for Giants fans: Hakeem Nicks does the Dirty Bird:
The Falcons become the first team to finish a playoff game with exactly two points. In the first half they forced Eli Manning into an intentional grounding call in the end zone, which results in a safety. But the Falcons couldn't really do anything offensively. Michael Turner had 15 rushes and didn't even average three yards a carry. Tony Gonzalez was mostly a non-factor. The longest pass play was 21 yards. The explosiveness was gone.
Matt Ryan's Falcons are now 0-3 in the playoffs. And Tony Gonzalez, who's the most productive tight end in NFL history (by a long shot) since entering the league in 1997, has still yet to win a playoff game. It's still early to label the chokers' tag on them but it's not a good start for this Falcons team over the last four years.
The Giants play the Packers next week. And they have the formula to beat them. New York took the Packers to the limit a few weeks ago in New York before ultimately losing, 38-35. They'll need to play even better in Green Bay for the NFC Divisional round matchup but they have the front seven that can create enough pressure to disrupt the Packers passing game. If there's a dark horse team to beat the Packers, it's the Giants. The game will be on Sunday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. (ET).
Video highlights: Lone first quarter highlight; Eli Manning's safety; Brandon Jacobs enters beast mode; Eli Manning to Hakeem Nicks, take one; Eli Manning to Hakeem Nicks, take two; Aaron Ross suffers concussion; Eli Manning to Mario Manningham.
Tim Tebow only knows how to throw the deep ball. Tebow did not complete a pass in the first quarter but in the second quarter he racked up 185 yards passing on five completions. Those completions included gains of 58, 51, 40 and 30 yards along with a rushing and passing touchdown for Tebow. Check out the hands on Eddie Royal in the Broncos' first touchdown:
How good was the Broncos' second quarter? It was the most points (20) they've scored in one quarter in nearly four years.
Ben Roethlisberger was playing hurt, and it showed. He suffered a high ankle sprain in December causing him to miss Week 16 before playing in Week 17, even though he was clearly still hurting. It doesn't look like the pain got any better as Roethlisberger was obviously limping throughout the game. He was still the best option for the Steelers at quarterback but it was obvious the ankle injury limited his mobility at times (while at other times he was cutting up the middle for nine-yard runs in the fourth quarter).
When do you know a pass is a forward pass? When it goes forward. Thanks, Phil Simms.
Tebow and Roethlisberger both had a shot in regulation, and both failed. Both of the quarterbacks had a shot to lead their team to glory -- Tebow had the ball at their own 15-yard line with 3:42 remaining but converted only one first down in a six-play drive. Roethlisberger received the ball with 1:37 remaining at their own 24-yard line. Both drives failed in the final minutes which led into...
New overtime rules put into use in Denver (kind of). In case you forgot, the NFL has new overtime rules for the playoffs and for the first time since those were instituted we have an overtime game. Unfortunately Tebow and the Broncos didn't let the NFL test them -- they scored an 80-yarder on the first play of overtime and won the game, 29-23. This touchdown is pretty crazy to watch. The only way to end the game on the first possession in the new overtime rules is to score a touchdown.
Denver travels to New England to play the Patriots. The Texans are visiting the Ravens in the other AFC Divisional game. We expect the Broncos to be heavy underdogs as they were against the Steelers (eight points). The game will be on Saturday night. Here's the complete playoffs schedule.
Video highlights: Big catch by Heath Miller; Tim Tebow's first two completions go for 81 yards; Tebow gets angry; Tebow's rushing touchdown; Phil Simms on the controversial forward pass call; McGahee's fumble lets the Steelers get back into it; Ben Roethlisberger's late TD pass;