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Miami’s Miracle Derailed New England’s Chase for Home-Field Advantage

A 69-yard, multilateral touchdown on the last play of the game gave the Dolphins a bizarre and thrilling win against their division rivals

NFL: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins Photo by Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports

We tried to tell you that Miami is a house of horrors for the Patriots. Tom Brady is 7-9 in South Beach, and many of the Patriots’ weirdest losses have taken place down there during his career. Make that 7-10 after this:

With seven seconds left, the Dolphins, trailing 27-33, needed to gain 69 yards to top the Patriots. So, Ryan Tannehill tossed the ball to Kenny Stills, who lateraled it to DeVante Parker, who lateraled the ball to Kenyan Drake. Rob Gronkowski, who was in on the coverage to defend against a potential Hail Mary throw, lumbered like an ent with ankle weights on and completely missed what could have been a game-winning tackle as Drake weaved through traffic and into the end zone to give Miami a 34-33 win. Here’s how Drake described gaining those final 50 yards:

This play truly deserves the “Miracle” descriptor—it’s the longest play from scrimmage to win a game with no time remaining since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger. When Stephen Gostkowski made a field goal in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter to put the Patriots up five, ESPN gave New England a 99.9 percent chance of winning. Sixteen seconds later … well … just look at the chart:

This game was a nightmare for the Patriots even though they were one play from winning. By halftime, they led 27-21 against a Miami team that has had five games this season in which it has failed to score 21 points total. At the end of the first half, the Patriots made a rare misstep: They had the ball at Miami’s 2-yard line, but allowed Brady to be sacked and watched as time ran out, costing the team a free opportunity at points. Plus, the typically reliable Gostkowski missed an extra point and a 42-yard field goal.

The Patriots also let a couple of relative unknowns carve them up. Tannehill threw a touchdown strike to Brice Butler, who came into the day with four receptions on the year. Meanwhile, running back Brandon Bolden had two touchdowns on three touches. From 2014 to 2017, Bolden had one touchdown on 129 touches as a member of the Patriots. One of his touchdowns Sunday was this one, in which Bolden zipped by the entire defense:

New England’s loss has major implications in the AFC playoff race. The Patriots entered the day just a game behind the Chiefs while holding the head-to-head tiebreaker, but now, after this loss and Kansas City’s overtime win against Baltimore, New England is two games back with just three weeks left. It’s looking more and more like the playoffs will run through Arrowhead, not Foxborough.

But that’s not all bad news for the Patriots: at the very least, Kansas City isn’t Miami.