He had just been sacked for the seventh time and was about to go down again when he got off a shovel pass in the nick of time to tailback Demetrius Sumler, bringing up third-and-16 from his own 33 with the Buffs trailing by six and time running out.
It was the start of a frenetic and fantastic finish for the Buffaloes as Hansen overcame his second-straight eight-sack game to lead Colorado to a 35-34 win over the Texas A&M Aggies on Saturday.
On third-and-long, Hansen hit Markques Simas for 45 yards, then threw a strike to tight end Patrick Devenny, whose one-handed grab in the end zone from 22 yards out tied it. Aric Goodman's conversion sailed through to put the Buffaloes ahead by a point with 2:04 left.
After defensive back Anthony Perkins picked off Jerrod Johnson's pass at midfield, the Aggies forced a punt. But backup Terrence Frederick, who replaced regular returner Dustin Harris (ankle), bungled it and Buffs linebacker Marcus Burton recovered with 23 seconds left.
"At first, I'm thinking I'm going to lay him out and then he muffed it. Then there were three guys who (touched) the ball, too, so I'm just like, 'I want to grab it,"' Burton said. "I knew the game was ours, take a knee, get the 'dub,' come into the locker room and sing the fight song."
Simas had a breakout performance, catching seven passes for 135 yards and Rodney Stewart ran 20 times for 118 yards and two touchdowns for Colorado (3-6, 2-3 Big 12), which held twice near the goal line.
The first time came on the Aggies' first drive of the game, when they failed to punch it in twice from inside the 1. That factored into coach Mike Sherman's thinking when he sent out the field goal unit on fourth-and-goal from the 3 in the closing minutes and his team up by three points.
The 20-yard kick by Randy Bullock made it 34-28 and the Buffs got the ball back with 3:53 remaining.
The Aggies (5-4, 2-3) looked like they were about to become bowl eligible when Cyrus Gray, whose 99-yard touchdown on a kickoff return helped them take a 21-10 halftime lead, returned a kickoff 45 yards to midfield in the fourth quarter. Tack on 15 more for a late hit, and the Aggies started their drive at the Colorado 40-yard line.
But they stalled at the 3 and Bullock's field goal left the Buffaloes within striking distance with four minutes left. That was plenty for Hansen, who threw for 271 yards and ran for 45 more. His running yards would have been higher, but he lost 60 yards in sacks.
"He took some shots out there today and got dinged up and still made some plays," Buffs coach Dan Hawkins said. "Without Tyler's ability to run, especially early on, we would have been in trouble."
And if not for his strong right arm and sudden elusiveness, they would have been in danger late.
"You can see that he's a fighter, the way he kept making things happen," said Aggies safety Jordan Pugh, whose interception led to a field goal that gave Texas A&M a 10-point lead with 11 minutes left. "He willed their team to that win."
Despite being on his backside for much of the afternoon. "He's a slippery guy," insisted NCAA sacks leader Von Miller, who had two of Texas A&M's season-high eight sacks, giving him 15 1/2. "He's a pretty good guy, slippery guy that took control of the game and won it for them."
The Buffaloes had been reeling with Hawkins on the cusp of his fourth-straight losing season and the departure during the week of sophomore tailback Darrell Scott, his prized recruit.
"He's a great guy," Hansen said, "but it motivated us to prove people wrong. We're OK as a program."
Some fans in the student sections at Folsom Field wore powder blue instead of gold protest of the program's slide into mediocrity. It was the color the team wore from 1981-84 when they went 10-34 overall during one of the worst stretches in school history.
But those same fans were among those who stormed the field afterward, making the scrum look very much like the ones Scott hopes to see at UCLA down the road.
"Like I said before the game," Hawkins said, "the real Buffs are wearing black and gold."