Sunday's NFL roundup: Patriots say bye-bye to first-round bye
Foxborough, Mass. — The New England Patriots of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick never have made the Super Bowl while playing in the wild-card playoff round. They’ll have to make some more franchise history to win another NFL title.
The Dolphins dropped New England into the wild-card round when Ryan Fitzpatrick tossed a 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mike Gesicki with 24 seconds remaining for a stunning 27-24 victory Sunday.
New England will have to play in the opening weekend of the postseason for the first time since 2009.
“We didn’t play the way we were capable of playing and it ended up costing us,” six-time champion Brady said. “Just too many bad mistakes.”
The Dolphins scored on a wild series of laterals on the final play to win the second meeting between the teams last season, in Miami. This time, it was Fitzpatrick’s turn to provide all the magic Miami needed to end its AFC rival’s streak of nine straight first-round playoff byes.
After trailing throughout the game, 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.
“I know how difficult it is to beat them,” Fitzpatrick said. “I know how difficult it really is to beat them at home. I’m proud of what we did out there today.”
(At) Kansas City 31, L.A. Chargers 21: Mecole Hardman returned a kickoff 104 yards for a touchdown, Damien Williams took a handoff 84 yards for another score, and the Chiefs leapfrogged New England for the No. 2 seed in the AFC and a first-round playoff bye. The Chiefs 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.
San Francisco 26, (at) Seattle 21: The 49ers won the NFC West and the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs with a 26-21 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night when Jacob Hollister was stopped by rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw on fourth-and-goal just inches short of the goal line.
Chicago 21, (at) Minnesota 19: Eddy Piñeiro’s fourth field goal of the game for Chicago came from 22 yards with 10 seconds left with the Vikings resting their regulars for the playoffs. David Montgomery had 23 carries for 113 yards and a touchdown to cap a strong rookie season and help the Bears beat the Vikings for the fourth consecutive time.
(At) Cincinnati 33, Cleveland 23: Andy Dalton threw for a TD and ran for another in his farewell as a franchise quarterback — a Joe Burrow banner in the upper deck reminded him what comes next — and the Bengals (2-14) matched the worst record in their 52-year history.
Atlanta 28, (at) Tampa Bay 22 (OT): Deion Jones intercepted Jameis Winston on the first play of overtime and returned the ball 28 yards for a touchdown. The Falcons tied the game with a field goal on the last play of regulation and won for the sixth time in eight games when Jones became the seventh opposing player to score on a pick-6 off Winston this season.
(At) N.Y. Jets 13, Buffalo 6: Sam Darnold hit Jamison Crowder for a 1-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, and New York avoided finishing its fourth consecutive season with double-digit losses in a win over Buffalo’s backups. 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.
(At) Denver 16, Oakland 15: Shelby Harris knocked down Derek Carr’s 2-point pass to Hunter Renfrow with 7 seconds left and the Broncos put at end to the Raiders’ dim playoff hopes. Rookie Drew Lock won for the fourth time in his five starts and Phillip Lindsay topped 1,000 yards for the second straight season.
(At) L.A. Rams 31, Arizona 24: Tyler Higbee and Robert Woods caught touchdown passes from Jared Goff in the fourth quarter, and the Rams secured their third straight winning season. Goff passed for 319 yards, while Los Angeles’ defense made four takeaways in the final NFL game at the 96-year-old Coliseum. The Rams are moving into palatial SoFi Stadium in Inglewood next season.
(At) Dallas 47, Washington 16: Dak Prescott threw four touchdown passes to lead Dallas, a win rendered meaningless when the Cowboys were eliminated from the playoffs by Philadelphia’s victory over the Giants.
(At) Baltimore 28, Pittsburgh 10: Slogging through the rain without several notable stars and with little at stake, the Ravens relied on a strong defensive performance to beat the Steelers and finish the regular season riding a 12-game winning streak.
Tennessee 35, (at) Houston 14: Derrick Henry rushed for a season-high 211 yards and three touchdowns and the Titans got their first win at Houston since Jan. 1, 2012.
(At) Jacksonville 38, Indianapolis 20: Gardner Minshew turned in his best performance in two months, throwing for 295 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Jaguars.