(Reuters) – The New England Patriots were stunned by the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, costing them a first-round bye in the playoffs, while the Philadelphia Eagles won the National Football Conference (NFC) East division on the final day of the NFL regular season.
Dec 29, 2019; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws a pass past New England Patriots free safety Devin McCourty (32) and outside linebacker Dont’a Hightower (54) during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Fitzpatrick tossed a five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mike Gesicki with 24 seconds left to earn the visiting Dolphins a 27-24 win over the defending Super Bowl champions.
The loss left the Patriots (12-4), the American Football Conference (AFC) East winners, without a first-round bye for the first time in 10 seasons. They will play the Tennessee Titans (9-7) in a wild-card game next weekend.
“We didn’t play the way we’re capable of playing and it ended up costing us,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said. “Just too many bad mistakes.”
The Eagles (9-7) claimed their second NFC East title in three seasons with a 34-17 triumph over the New York Giants.
The Dallas Cowboys (8-8), who romped past the Washington Redskins 47-16, would have won the division with a victory and an Eagles’ loss.
The other division title up for grabs, the NFC West, awaits the winner of the late game in Seattle between the San Francisco 49ers (12-3) and the Seahawks (11-4).
Elsewhere in the NFC, North division champions Green Bay (13-3) needed a last-second field goal to wrap up a first-round bye with a 23-20 win over the Detroit Lions.
South champions the New Orleans Saints (13-3) also advanced after crushing the Carolina Panthers 42-10.
The Minnesota Vikings (10-6), who lost to the Chicago Bears 21-19, also are in the playoffs as a wild card.
The NFC seeds will be set after the 49ers-Seahawks game.
The Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) claimed the AFC’s No. 2 seed and a first-round bye by beating the Los Angeles Chargers 31-21.
Also enjoying a bye will be the top seeded Baltimore Ravens (14-2), who beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 28-10.
The Patriots will be the number three seed followed by the Houston Texans (10-6), Buffalo Bills (10-6) and the Tennessee Titans (9-7).
The Titans made it in the playoffs by stopping the Texans 35-14. The Bills, who lost to the New York Jets 13-6, have a wild card game at the Texans next weekend.
After the wild card games on Saturday and Sunday, divisional round contests follow on Jan. 11-12.
Conference championship games are set for Jan. 19 with the Super Bowl in Miami on Feb. 2.
(This story has been refiled to fix typo in first paragraph)
Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford