Patriots Fumble Chance at First-Round Bye with Error-ridden 27-24 Loss to Miami Dolphins


The only thing that stood between the Patriots and the No. 2 seed was the defense holding pat against journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and the 4-11 Dolphins.

The clock read 3:53. It should’ve been easy. On this day, however, nothing was in a matchup that should’ve been lopsided. Instead, it ended in disaster.

As it was seen all game long, it wasn’t going to be easy for the Patriots. This final Dolphins drive reinforced that notion. Fitzpatrick got the Dolphins downfield by hitting DeVante Parker for a 24-yard gain to get near the red zone. With 1:10 remaining, the quarterback, on third-and-5, hit Albert Wilson for a 7-yard gain. Two plays later, with 35 seconds left, Fitzpatrick hit Isaiah Ford for a gain of four to set up a first-and-goal from the 5.

With 24 seconds remaining, Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki beat Patrick Chung for a 5-yard touchdown to give Miami a 27-24 win. The Patriots’ final offensive possession ended with Tom Brady’s unit gaining one first down. His final pass, with two seconds left, resulted in a failed hook-and-lateral play.

The Patriots fall to 12-4 in one of the most shocking upset losses at home in recent memory. The result could be catastrophic. The Patriots lost the No. 2 seed to the Kansas City Chiefs and will play in the wild-card round for the first time since the 2009 season. They will host the Tennessee Titans, who secured the final AFC playoff spot with a win over the Houston Texans on Sunday.

Ryan Fitzpatrick started this game going 7-of-7 for 91 yards. In the second Miami drive, the veteran quarterback took the Dolphins all the way to the 9-yard line in a 12-play 80-yard drive. The first incomplete pass of the day for Fitzpatrick happened on a third-and-8 play, which led to Miami kicker Jason Sanders hitting a 27-yard field goal at 1:38 of the first quarter.

Offensively, the Patriots looked dreadful to start. Their first drive started around midfield due to a failed fake punt by the Dolphins. The solid field position was wasted with a three-and-out. The Pats got close to midfield on their next drive, but saw a third-down conversion negated due to an offensive pass interference penalty. The Pats had one first down and 39 total yards after their first two series.

Through the Dolphins first three drives, they had as many first downs (eight) as the Patriots had offensive plays. Somehow, it got worse.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Mark Daniels