A wild day for the AFC East was punctuated by a jaw-dropping final play in Miami’s tilt against New England, channeling their inner Stanford.
If the Miami Dolphins were going to keep their playoff hopes alive, they needed to pull off the unenviable task of topping the New England Patriots. That task became even more improbable with the Patriots up 33-28 with 16 seconds to go. The Dolphins needed 69 yards to reach end zone. Simply put, Miami needed a miracle.
A 69-yard play shockingly finished with a touchdown, and Miami escaped with a 34-33 victory. The play began inconspicuously enough, with Ryan Tannehill’s pass to Kenny Stills landing just short of midfield. Stills got the ball to DeVante Parker, who in turn pitched it to Kenyan Drake. The running back would go on to take it the rest of the way, nabbing it from 50 yards out and dodging New England defenders to earn the victory.
One of those defenders was tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was on defense to provide extra protection from a deep ball. He was among the final defenders to miss Drake, tripping shortly before he watched him squeak into the end zone.
Miami (7-6) entered the matchup 2-6 in their past eight meetings with the Patriots. With the win, they entered a four-way tie for the final AFC wild-card playoff spot, knotted with Baltimore, Indianapolis, and Tennessee. Despite dropping a 27-24 overtime decision in Kansas City, the Ravens own the spot through tiebreakers.
The Dolphins also still have an outside shot at their first AFC East title 2008. Their win prevented the Patriots (9-4) from clinching the division. Furthermore, it prevented the Pats from gaining an inside track on the AFC’s second first-round playoff bye. In that regard, the Patriots own a head-to-head tiebreaker with Houston.
The Dolphins’ quest for a playoff spot gets no easier next week, taking on NFC wild card contenders in Minnesota next Sunday (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS). Meanwhile, the Patriots likewise hit the road to battle Pittsburgh (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS).