Sun Dec 29 4:52pm ET
By KYLE HIGHTOWER
AP Sports Writer
Players: Tom Brady, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Nick Folk, Benjamin Watson, Julian Edelman, Brandon Bolden, Mohamed Sanu, Rex Burkhead, James White, Albert Wilson, Phillip Dorsett, DeVante Parker, Jason Sanders, Sony Michel, Patrick Laird, Mike Gesicki, Isaiah Ford
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches from the sideline in the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki, left, catches the winning touchdown pass in front of New England Patriots safety Patrick Chung in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, center, celebrates his touchdown run with teammates in the second half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick runs past New England Patriots linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley, left, on the way to a touchdown in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
New England Patriots running back Sony Michel scores a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick passes under pressure in the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
New England Patriots running back Sony Michel, center, runs from Miami Dolphins linebackers Calvin Munson, left, and Andrew Van Ginkel, right, in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Miami dropped defending Super Bowl champion New England into the wild-card playoff 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 (12-4) will have to play in the opening weekend of the postseason for the first time since 2009. The Patriots never have made the Super Bowl while playing in the wild-card round.
The Patriots won their first eight games, the split the next eight, including the rarity of two losses at home.
It is the second straight season the Dolphins have denied the Patriots an unbeaten division record. They scored on a wild series of laterals on the final play in their second meeting last season, in Miami.
After trailing throughout the game, Tom 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.
Miami (5-11) made New England play catchup for most of the game and led 10-0 early and 20-17 in the fourth quarter.
Brady finished 16 of 29 for 221 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He went over 4,000 yards for the 11th time in his career, tying him with Philip Rivers for fourth on the all-time list.
The Dolphins drove inside the Patriots 20 early in the fourth quarter, but settled for a 32-yard field goal by Jason Sanders to take a 20-17 lead with 8:29 remaining.
Brandon Bolden gave the Patriots good field position, taking the ensuing kickoff and returning it 38 yards to the New England 40. Rex Burkhead rushed 14 yards on the first play to get the Patriots across the 50.
Brady completed a short pass to Ben Watson, followed by a 20-yard strike to Mohamed Sanu. Three plays later, Brady connected with White for the go-head score.
But it wasn't enough.
The Dolphins made it clear from the outset that they weren't going to allow the Patriots to coast. Miami took a 10-0 lead in the second quarter when Eric Rowe stepped in front of Brady's pass to Julian Edelman and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown. It was Brady's first career pick-6 against the Dolphins.
It also marked the first time the Dolphins led the Patriots by double digits since Week 8 of the 2013 season. New England won that game 27-17.
Miami twice saw its leads evaporate on Sunday as well.
The Patriots got a 25-yard field goal from Nick Folk. They tied it by capping a five-play, 82-yard drive with a 4-yard run by Sony Michel just before the half. Michel's TD was setup by a 50-yard pass from Brady to Phillip Dorsett along the sideline, his first catch since Week 13.
Later, trailing 17-10 in the third, the Patriots went deep in the playbook when Brady connected with linebacker and part-time fullback Elandon Roberts for a 38-yard touchdown.
NOTHING TO LOSE
With no postseason to look forward to, Miami pulled out plenty of trickery.
Facing a fourth-and-3 on the Patriots 45 on the opening drive, the Dolphins attempted a fake punt. But holder Matt Haack's pass to Deon Lacey was high and landed far out of bounds.
The tricks continued when receiver Isaiah Ford scrambled for a first down after an aborted pass attempt. The Dolphins drove to the Patriots 9 before the 12-play, 80-yard drive ended with a 27-yard field goal by Sanders that put Miami in front 3-0.
Miami used even more misdirection in the third quarter when receiver Albert Wilson tossed a 20-yard pass to running back Patrick Laird. Four plays later, Fitzpatrick ran it in from 2 yards to put Miami in front 17-10.
Sunday's start also marked Brady's 16th season starting 16 games, tying Peyton Manning for second all time. Brett Favre holds the NFL record at 17 seasons of 16 starts.
Dolphins: Safety Walt Aikens left in the fourth quarter with an ankle issue.
Dolphins: End of season.
Patriots: Will play on the opening weekend of the postseason for the first time since 2009.
Five Fantasy Takeaways from Week 6
New York Giants linebacker Tae Crowder (hamstring) has been ruled out for at least the next three contests after he was placed on injured reserve Tuesday due to a hamstring injury. Crowder delivered the game-winning touchdown during Sundays win over Washington on a 42-yard fumble recovery, and he has compiled 18 tackles over his first five career games. His absence will give the Giants Defense a hole in its depth at the linebacker position, but irrespective of Crowders presence, the unit does not likely merit much fantasy consideration at this stage. The next chance that Crowder has to suit up will be Week 10 against Philadelphia.
The Las Vegas Raiders designated quarterback Marcus Mariota (pectoral) to return from Injured Reserve and also signed former Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving to the practice squad on Tuesday. Mariota was brought in during the offseason to push Derek Carr for the starting gig, but the former Tennessee Titan got hurt before the start of the regular season. The 26-year-old former Oregon Duck should return to being a high-priced backup to Carr when he's healthy enough to return, pushing Nathan Peterman down to No. 3 on the depth chart. Carr has been solid for the Raiders, completing a career-high 73.1 percent of his passes for 1,442 yards, 11 touchdowns and one interception through five games in 2020, so it'll likely take an injury for Mariota to see the field before the season ends.
Denver Broncos DT Timmy Jernigan was released Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Arizona Cardinals RB D.J. Foster (quad) and TE Justin Johnson (ankle) were activated from the practice squad Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Oct. 20. OL Rick Leonard was also re-signed to the practice squad. To make room, Arizona released S T.J. Ward, S Kentrell Brice and CB Jalen Davis from the practice squad.
Tennessee Titans TE MyCole Pruitt was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey (ankle) isn't expected to play in Week 7 against the New Orleans Saints, but he 'has a shot' to play in Week 8 versus the Atlanta Falcons, according to NFL Network's Mike Garofolo.
Fantasy Spin: Garofolo is speculating the Panthers don't want to bring back McCaffrey from a month-long absence to have him play twice in five days and it makes sense. Of course, it would also make sense for Carolina to not put McCaffrey back on the field on a short week (Week 8) and give him even more time to recover from his high-ankle sprain. Fantasy owners should view Week 7 as the last time they'll get to use Mike Davis - presumably for the remainder of the season - barring an in-game aggravation of the injury down the road. McCaffrey will obviously return to the RB1 ranks as soon as he returns to the field.
Philadelphia Eagles OT Jack Driscoll (ankle), TE Zach Ertz (ankle), DT Malik Jackson (quad), RB Miles Sanders (knee) and S K'Von Wallace (shoulder) did not participate in practice Tuesday, Oct. 20. S Marcus Epps (rib), WR DeSean Jackson (hamstring), WR Alshon Jeffery (foot), OT Lane Johnson (ankle), CB Avonte Maddox (ankle) and LB Duke Riley (rib) were limited. The Eagles held a walkthrough Tuesday, so the report is an estimation.
The Tennessee Titans activated tight end MyCole Pruitt and defensive back Breon Borders from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. Pruitt will rejoin the 53-man roster and is eligible to play in Week 7 against the Steelers. In his three games with Tennessee in 2020, Pruitt has caught all three of his targets for 17 yards and a touchdown. The team's tight end depth could be tested this Sunday with Jonnu Smith (ankle) questionable due to a mild ankle injury, but even if Smith doesn't play, Pruitt will be a desperation tight end streamer with Anthony Firkser and Geoff Swaim also fighting for playing time against the undefeated Steelers.
New York Giants WR C.J. Board (concussion), DB Adrian Colbert (shoulder) and LB Tae Crowder (hamstring) did not participate in practice Tuesday, Oct. 20. DB Darnay Holmes (neck) and WR Darius Slayton (foot) were limited. RB Dion Lewis (hand) practiced in full. The Giants held a walkthrough Tuesday, so the report is an estimation.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (ankle) isn't expected to play in Week 7 against the Saints, which will be the fifth game he's missed since suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 2, according to sources. The Panthers are being cautious with their star running back, but McCaffrey is getting closer to a return and he could be back next Thursday against the Falcons. Carolina still needs to activate McCaffrey from Injured Reserve, and from there fantasy managers can monitor his practice status. Continue to be patient with the All-Pro running back, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the majority of fantasy leagues. Mike Davis continues to see a heavy workload in the absence of McCaffrey, and he'll remain in RB1 territory this Sunday against the Saints.
Carolina Panthers S Juston Burris (ribs) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Oct. 20.
The Dallas Cowboys sit at 2-4 after a Monday night drubbing at the hands of the Cardinals, and the players are starting to voice their discontent with head coach Mike McCarthy and his coaching staff. An anonymous player said, "Totally unprepared. They dont teach. They dont have any sense of adjusting on the fly." Another anonymous player said that "they just arent good at their jobs." Losing quarterback Dak Prescott (ankle) for the season was a big blow, but Dallas' defense ranks 26th in yardage allowed per game and are dead last in points allowed after six weeks. They have a chance to take control of the weakest division in football the next two weeks with games against Washington and Philadelphia, but this is a situation to watch if things continue to go downhill in Dallas.
Free-agent DE David Irving (Cowboys) signed an undisclosed contract with the Las Vegas Raiders on Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Chicago Bears LB Manti Te'o was signed to the practice squad of the Chicago Bears on Tuesday, Oct. 20.
The Los Angeles Rams signed kicker Kai Forbath on Tuesday. Forbath was cut by the Cowboys earlier this year and hasn't kicked at all in 2020. The 33-year-old kicked in just four games in 2019 with the Cowboys and Patriots and made all 11 of his field-goal tries. He's bounced around the NFL in his nine-year career, playing for Washington, New Orleans, Minnesota, Jacksonville, Dallas and New England. Forbath was signed to compete with Samuel Sloman, who has missed either a field goal or extra point in five of the team's six games this year. Sloman currently ranks 24th in the league at the kicking position in terms of fantasy points. Against the Bears on Monday night in Week 7, you can find better streaming options.
Los Angeles Rams LB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (elbow) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Oct. 20. PK Kai Forbath was signed off the practice squad of the Chicago Bears to replace him on the roster.
New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (toe) returned to practice on Tuesday. If all goes well, the hope is that he will return from Injured Reserve to play Thursday night against the Eagles. Shepard led the team in receiving last year and has caught eight of his 10 targets for 76 yards in his two games in 2020, including a team-high six receptions in the season-opener. The fifth-year wideout has been out since suffering a turf toe injury in Week 2. It remains to be seen if the G-Men will ease Shepard back into the fold if he plays in Week 7, but you should check your waiver wire to see if he was dropped by his previous owner. When healthy, Shepard should be quarterback Daniel Jones' top receiving target. The matchup is a good one for New York's pass-catchers, too, as Philly's D has allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to receivers through six weeks.
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said that linebacker Devin Bush (knee) will undergo surgery to fix his torn ACL on Wednesday. Bush will miss the remainder of the 2020 season. It's a big blow to the Steelers Defense, as the No. 10 overall pick from 2019 had been a big contributor in the middle of the field. The 22-year-old had 26 tackles (16 solo), two QB hits, three passes defensed and one sack in five games this season after recording 109 combined tackles, two interceptions, four passes defensed and four fumble recoveries in a very productive rookie season in 2019. The loss of Bush will be something to watch moving forward, as Pittsburgh's defense has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to running backs this year. It's good news for Titans running back Derrick Henry in the Week 7 showdown of two unbeaten teams.
Detroit Lions WR Joe Webb was released from the practice squad Tuesday, Oct. 20.