FitzMagic made the Patriots’ expected postseason bye week disappear.
New England had won 15 straight games against Miami in Foxborough, but Ryan Fitzpatrick finished off a late scoring drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mike Gesicki with 24 seconds remaining in Miami’s 27-24 win over New England.
The loss drops the Pats (12-4) to the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs, with Kansas City (12-4) earning a first-round bye with its 31-21 win over the Chargers.
“Obviously not too much to say. Obviously we didn’t do anything well enough today to deserve to win,” New England coach Bill Belichick said. “Whoever we play … we still have an opportunity in front of us here. We need our best football and we didn’t have it today.”
The Patriots had earned a week off in the wild-card round in every season between 2010 and 2018. They have reached the Super Bowl nine times during the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era — but never without a first-round bye.
New England will play host to Tennessee (9-7) on Sunday — their first wild-card weekend appearance since 2009 — with Buffalo visiting Houston one day earlier in the other AFC matchup.
“We didn’t play the way we were capable of playing and it ended up costing us,” said Brady, whose 13-yard touchdown pass to James White had put the Pats ahead with 3:47 remaining. “Just too many bad mistakes.”
The Dolphins, who were 15¹/₂-point underdogs, finished the season with five wins in their final nine games under first-year coach Brian Flores following an 0-7 start.
“I know how difficult it is to beat them,” the 37-year-old Fitzpatrick said of the Patriots. “I know how difficult it really is to beat them at home. I’m proud of what we did out there today.”
Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay completed a 13-3 season and cemented a first-round bye with a 23-20 comeback win over the Lions.
Rodgers finished the season with 4,002 passing yards, 26 touchdown passes and four interceptions for the Packers, who will be the No. 2 seed in the NFC after No. 1 San Francisco defeated Seattle, 26-21 Sunday night to clinch the NFC West.
“We’re going to be a tough team to deal with in the playoffs,” Rodgers said. “We were just a little bit off at times. But when we had to make a play, we made the play.”
The Packers trailed 17-3 late in the third quarter, but forged a 20-20 tie on a 28-yard Rodgers pass to Allen Lazard with 5:19 remaining. Rodgers’ 31-yard throw to Aaron Jones with 33 seconds left set up a 33-yard field goal by Mason Crosby as time expired.
No. 6 Minnesota (10-6) will face No. 3 New Orleans (13-3), with No. 5 Seattle (11-5) traveling to NFC East champion Philadelphia (9-7).
A dream about Tennessee
The Titans completed a 7-3 finish since Ryan Tannehill took over as their starting quarterback to grab the second wild-card spot in the AFC with a 35-14 rout of the resting Texans.
Derrick Henry ran for 211 yards and three touchdowns to win the NFL rushing title with 1,540 yards for Tennessee, surpassing Browns running back Nick Chubb (1,494) with a late 53-yard TD scamper.
A.J. McCarron started for Houston in place of Deshaun Watson, who sat out after being limited in practice all week with a back injury. The Texans (10-6) will play host to wild-card Buffalo (10-6) next week.
How the West was won
With Seattle trailing 26-21 on the final drive, Russell Wilson completed a fourth-and-10 pass for a first down to John Ursua at the 1-yard line and then spiked the ball to stop the clock with 22 seconds remaining. A delay of game penalty moved the Seahawks back to the 6-yard line, but on another fourth-down completion, tight end Jacob Hollister was stopped inches shy of the goal line on a tackle by linebacker Dre Greenlaw to preserve the win for San Francisco.
Raheem Mostert scored two touchdowns and Deebo Samuel ran in another from 30 yards out earlier in the game for the 49ers. Marshawn Lynch scored on a 1-yard plunge in the fourth quarter his first game for Seattle since 2015.
$30 million for 30-30?
Jameis Winston needed overtime to become the first quarterback in NFL history with at least 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions, throwing a 28-yard pick-six to Falcons linebacker Deion Jones five minutes into OT in Tampa Bay’s 28-22 loss to Atlanta.
Winston, a pending free agent who said last week that he’s looking for a contract worth at least $30 million per year, finished the season with a league-high 5,109 passing yards (the eighth QB ever to exceed 5,000) with 33 TDs and 30 INTs. The pick-six was his seventh of the season, breaking Peyton Manning’s single-season record from 2001.
The Browns didn’t even wait until Black Monday to ax head coach Freddy Kitchens after one season at the helm of the disappointing and bickering 6-10 team.
Kitchens was promoted after serving one season as the team’s offensive coordinator, but the Browns didn’t meet expectations despite the addition of former Giants star Odell Beckham Jr. last offseason to pair with quarterback Baker Mayfield, the No. 1-overall pick in the 2018 draft.
According to a statement released by the team from owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam, the Browns “did not see the success or opportunities for improvement to move forward with [Kitchens] as our head coach.”
Washington also appeared closer to replacing ousted Jay Gruden, who was fired Oct. 7 and replaced for the rest of the season by interim coach Bill Callahan. Former Panthers’ coach Ron Rivera has emerged as a top candidate and is scheduled to meet with the Washington front office on Monday, NFL Network reported. Rivera had been considered a potential replacement for Giants coach Pat Shurmur because of his ties to GM Dave Gettleman.
Rivera’s former job in Carolina remains open (Perry Fewell served as the interim coach), and there are expected to be at least two other coaching vacancies in Dallas (Jason Garrett) and Jacksonville (Doug Marrone).
Two pick-’em games from The Post’s Friday Bettor’s Guide turned at the end of regulation. The Bucs led by three in the closing seconds, but Atlanta forced overtime with a 33-yard field goal by Younghoe Koo on the final play of regulation before Jones’ interception return won it for the Falcons in OT. Eddy Pineiro’s 22-yard last-second kick lifted the Bears to a 21-19 win over playoff-bound Minnesota. Derek Carr’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow (and failed two-point conversion) with seven seconds remaining gave Oakland (+3) the cover in a 16-15 loss to Denver.
The Hurt Locker
Chiefs starting safety Juan Thornhill suffered what NFL Network reported as a “significant knee injury,” and the team fears he will miss the entire postseason. Redskins safety Maurice Smith was carted off against Dallas with a concussion. Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay and Packers linebacker B.J. Goodson also suffered concussions. Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson (ankle) and tight end Zach Ertz (ribs) were inactive against the Giants. Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsay (knee) was inactive against Arizona.
Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott threw four touchdown passes — three to wideout Michael Gallup — but head coach Jason Garrett and the Cowboys (8-8) failed to qualify for the postseason despite a 47-16 win over Washington. … Saints third-string quarterback Taysom Hill recorded his sixth touchdown reception of the season and receiver Michael Thomas extended his NFL single-season record for receptions to 149 in New Orleans’ 42-10 win over Carolina. … Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey became the third player in NFL history with 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards, joining Roger Craig (1985) and Marshall Faulk (1999). … Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III started for MVP frontrunner Lamar Jackson, and running back Gus Edwards ran for 130 yards as the top-seeded Baltimore finished 14-2 with its 12th consecutive win, 28-10, over Pittsburgh. … Chiefs running back Damien Williams ran for 124 yards on 12 carries with two touchdowns, including an 84-yard burst in the third quarter, in Kansas City’s 31-21 win over the Chargers. Chiefs receiver Mecole Hardman, the AFC kick returner for the Pro Bowl, ran back a kickoff 104 yards for a touchdown. … Bengals running back Joe Mixon ran for a career-high 162 yards and finished with 1,137 as NFL-worst Cincinnati finished 2-14 with a 33-23 win over Cleveland (6-10). … Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. caught a 20-yard TD reception from Baker Mayfield and finished his first season after leaving the Giants with 74 catches for 1,035 yards and four touchdowns. … Lions quarterback David Blough caught a 19-yard TD pass from wide receiver Danny Amendola. … Vikings quarterback Sean Mannion totaled just 126 passing yards in place of rested starter Kirk Cousins in Minnesota’s loss to Chicago. … Patriots linebacker Elandon Roberts lined up as a fullback and caught a 38-yard TD pass from Brady. … Rams quarterback Jared Goff had three TDs and no picks as Los Angeles finished 9-7 with a 31-24 win over Arizona (5-10-1). … Raiders quarterback Derek Carr had his throw on a two-point conversion attempt batted down with seven seconds remaining in a 16-15 loss to Denver in Oakland’s final game before moving next season to Las Vegas. … Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew threw for 295 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-20 win over Indianapolis in what reportedly could be Doug Marrone’s final game as Jacksonville’s head coach.