Miami dropped defending Super Bowl champion New England into the wild-card playoff round when Ryan Fitzpatrick tossed a five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mike Gesicki with 24 seconds remaining for a stunning 27-24 victory Sunday.
New England (12-4) will have to play in the opening weekend of the postseason for the first time since 2009. The Patriots never have made the Super Bowl while playing in the wild-card round.
The Patriots won their first eight games, the split the next eight, including the rarity of two losses at home.
It is the second straight season the Dolphins have denied the Patriots an unbeaten division record. They scored on a wild series of laterals on the final play in their second meeting last season, in Miami.
After trailing throughout the game, Tom Brady threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to James White to put New England in front 24-20 with 3:53 left. But Fitzpatrick, who finished 28 of 41 for 320 yards and a touchdown, was unflappable, leading Miami on a 13-play, 75-yard drive that included him recovering a fumbled snap, and completing a 24-yard pass to DeVante Parker.
Miami (5-11) made New England play catchup for most of the game and led 10-0 early and 20-17 in the fourth quarter.
Brady finished 16 of 29 for 221 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He went over 4,000 yards for the 11th time in his career, tying him with Philip Rivers for fourth on the all-time list.
The Dolphins drove inside the Patriots 20 early in the fourth quarter, but settled for a 32-yard field goal by Jason Sanders to take a 20-17 lead with 8:29 remaining.
Brandon Bolden gave the Patriots good field position, taking the ensuing kickoff and returning it 38 yards to the New England 40. Rex Burkhead rushed 14 yards on the first play to get the Patriots across the 50.
Brady completed a short pass to Ben Watson, followed by a 20-yard strike to Mohamed Sanu. Three plays later, Brady connected with White for the go-head score.
But it wasn’t enough.
The Dolphins made it clear from the outset that they weren’t going to allow the Patriots to coast. Miami took a 10-0 lead in the second quarter when Eric Rowe stepped in front of Brady’s pass to Julian Edelman and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown. It was Brady’s first career pick-6 against the Dolphins.
It also marked the first time the Dolphins led the Patriots by double digits since Week 8 of the 2013 season. New England won that game 27-17.
Miami twice saw its leads evaporate on Sunday as well.
The Patriots got a 25-yard field goal from Nick Folk. They tied it by capping a five-play, 82-yard drive with a 4-yard run by Sony Michel just before the half. Michel’s TD was setup by a 50-yard pass from Brady to Phillip Dorsett along the sideline, his first catch since Week 13.
Later, trailing 17-10 in the third, the Patriots went deep in the playbook when Brady connected with linebacker and part-time fullback Elandon Roberts for a 38-yard touchdown.
Green Bay Packers 23-20 Detroit Lions
Mason Crosby kicked a 33-yard field goal as time expired, lifting the Green Bay Packers to a 23-20 win over the Detroit Lions to earn a first-round bye.
The Packers (13-3) fell behind by two touchdowns in the second quarter. They didn’t lead until Crosby made his second game-winning kick against Detroit this season.
The Lions (3-12-1) closed with nine straight losses for their longest losing streak in a season since going 0-16 in 2008.
Green Bay won despite Aaron Rodgers struggling to make accurate throws for much of the afternoon. Rodgers was 27 of 55 for 323 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He made a short pass under pressure to Aaron Jones, who turned the clutch throw into a 31-yard reception to set up Crosby’s kick.
Jones ran for 100 yards on 25 carries and had 43 yards receiving. Davante Adams had seven receptions for 93 yards and a score.
David Blough was 12 of 29 for 122 yards — and a 19-yard touchdown reception — filling in again for Matthew Stafford, who had a season-ending back injury.
Despite playing only for pride, the Lions looked as if they were more motivated to win early in the game.
And with nothing to lose, they scored on a trick play midway through the first quarter. Blough handed off to receiver Danny Amendola, who threw back across the field to the rookie quarterback for a TD.
Kerryon Johnson converted a fourth down with a 1-yard TD run late in the first half, giving Detroit a 14-0 that stunned everyone not on their sideline.
Crosby and Matt Prater made field goals over the last 20 seconds of the first half, leaving the Lions with a 17-3 lead.
Rodgers started to make more accurate passes in the second half such as 20-yard TD pass to Adams and a 28-yard pass to Allen Lazard with 5:19 left for another score that helped the Packers pull into a 20-all tie.
LA Chargers 21-31 Kansas City Chiefs
Mecole Hardman returned a kickoff 104 yards for a touchdown, Damien Williams took a handoff 84 yards for another score, and the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Los Angeles Chargers 31-21 on Sunday to leapfrog New England for the No 2 seed in the AFC and a first-round playoff bye.
The Chiefs (12-4) long ago clinched their fourth straight AFC West title, but they needed a win and an unlikely Dolphins victory over the Patriots to get a week off. And just as Williams punched into the end zone in the closing minutes for his second touchdown of the game, the Dolphins were scoring the go-ahead TD with 24 seconds left for their 27-24 upset in Foxborough.
Now, the Patriots will have to play next weekend while the Chiefs set their sights on the divisional round of the playoffs.
The Chargers (5-11) made it stressful for Kansas City in the fourth quarter, though, driving for a touchdown that got them within 24-21 with 5:23 to go. But the Chiefs answered with an eight-play, 77-yard scoring drive that allowed them to wrap up their sixth straight win overall and 11th victory in 12 meetings with their longtime division rival.
Patrick Mahomes threw for 174 yards and a touchdown, and Williams finished with 124 yards rushing on just 12 carries, while the Chiefs defense continued an impressive stretch of late-season dominance.
They held Philip Rivers to 281 yards passing with two touchdowns and two interceptions in what could be the veteran quarterback’s final game for the Chargers. His contract is up after this season, and while Rivers has said he would like to play next year, nobody is quite sure whether that will happen in Los Angeles.
The interceptions by Tryann Mathieu in the end zone and Daniel Sorensen to essentially end the game gave the Chargers quarterback 18 picks for the season. It also drove Rivers’ total turnover count to 24.
The Chiefs offense has long been the headliner, but it has been their revamped defense under coordinator Steve Spagnuolo that has carried them on their current win streak. They had not allowed a touchdown the past two games, and Kansas City stretched that to 10 consecutive quarters when it forced a punt on the Chargers’ initial possession.
The streak finally ended when Rivers found Keenan Allen in the end zone early in the second quarter — a drive that proved doubly costly for the Chiefs. Safety Juan Thornhill (knee) and cornerback Bashaud Breeland (illness) left the game.
Cleveland Browns 23-33 Cincinnati Bengals
Andy Dalton threw for a touchdown and ran for another Sunday in his farewell as a franchise quarterback — a Joe Burrow banner in the upper deck reminded him what comes next — and the Cincinnati Bengals ended one of their most miserable seasons with a 33-23 victory over the Cleveland Browns.
Ohio’s two professional football teams wrapped up another fruitless year together and set course for an offseason of potentially big changes.
The Bengals (2-14) matched the worst record in their 52-year history. They’ll pick first in the draft for the first time since 2003, when they also were coming off a 2-14 finish and chose franchise quarterback Carson Palmer.
Cleveland (6-10) was a chic Super Bowl pick with Baker Mayfield coming off a sensational rookie season and Odell Beckham Jr. adding star quality to the offense. Instead, the Browns significantly regressed under first-year coach Freddie Kitchens, raising questions about whether he’ll get a second chance.
On a gray, rainy afternoon, the intrastate rivals moved on with an uneven game that epitomized their seasons.
Dalton knew it was likely his final start for the Bengals after nine seasons without a playoff victory. A day earlier, Burrow threw seven touchdown passes in LSU’s rout of Oklahoma, and the Bengals can take the Heisman Trophy winner if they wish.
A fan banner in the upper deck proclaimed: “CHRISTMAS COMES EARLY! WELCOME JOE!”
Dalton threw a 15-yard touchdown pass and scrambled 5 yards for another score in the Bengals’ highest-scoring first half of the season for a 20-16 lead. He finished 16 of 28 for 190 yards.
Joe Mixon ran for a career-high 162 yards and a pair of touchdowns, topping 1,000 yards for the second straight year.
The Browns hitched their hopes to Mayfield, who was inconsistent behind an offensive line that struggled to protect him. He threw three interceptions and was sacked a season-high six times Sunday.
Mayfield threw touchdown passes of 46 yards to Damion Ratley, 56 yards to Jarvis Landry, and 20 yards to Beckham. He also threw a pair of interceptions to Darius Phillips, one of which set up a Bengals touchdown.
Mayfield went 12 of 27 for 279 yards, ending his season with fewer touchdown passes and more interceptions than last year. Nick Chubb ran for 41 yards as he tried to nail down the NFL rushing title.
New York Jets 13-6 Buffalo Bills
Sam Darnold hit Jamison Crowder for a 1-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, and the New York Jets avoided finishing their fourth consecutive season with double-digit losses in a 13-6 win over the Buffalo Bills’ backups Sunday.
The Jets missed the playoffs for a ninth consecutive season, but finished at 7-9 under first-year coach Adam Gase for their best record since going 10-6 in 2015.
The playoff-bound Bills had very little to play for while resting most of their starters, including quarterback Josh Allen after the first quarter. Buffalo dropped to 10-6 — still its best finish since going 11-5 in 1999 — and entered the game already locked in as the AFC’s fifth seed.
The Bills will travel to play AFC South champion Houston Texans in the wild-card playoff round next weekend. The Texans were assured of the No. 4 seed after Kansas City defeated the Los Angeles Chargers.