Dolphins score late to defeat Patriots, deny New England first-round bye

Dolphins score late to defeat Patriots, deny New England first-round bye
FOXBOROUGH, MA - DECEMBER 29: Elandon Roberts #52 of the New England Patriots scores a touchdown in the third quarter of game against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) (Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Leading by four points in the final moments of their Week 17 contest with the Miami Dolphins, the New England Patriots were unable to keep Mike Gesicki out of the endzone, as he hauled in a five-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to lift the Dolphins to a 27-24 win over the Patriots.

The Patriots (12-4) took the lead for the first and last time in the game with just under four minutes remaining in the contest. Faced with a third-and-goal from the 13-yard-line, Tom Brady hit James White with a short pass that the running back turned into the winning score, streaking his way into the endzone thanks in large part to a massive block from OL Shaq Mason.

But with the game-winning drive by Fitzpatrick, the Dolphins (5-11) were able to erase the lone deficit they faced on the day.

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With the loss and a win by the Kansas City Chiefs, the Patriots will open the NFL playoffs on Wildcard Weekend for the first time since 2009.

Trailing by a touchdown midway through the third quarter, New England marched down the field on an 8-play, 75-yard drive culminating in a 38-yard touchdown reception from Elandon Roberts. Roberts, whose primary position is linebacker for the Patriots defense, has been filling in at fullback for the injured James Devlin.

And while he cleared the way for Sony Michel to score earlier in the contest, the first catch of his career resulted in the game’s longest touchdown. Roberts was alone on the right side of the field, before catching a pass from Tom Brady, turning upfield and stiff-arming a defender as he rumbled into the endzone for the tying score.

The touchdown pass was the 540th of Brady’s NFL career - in the regular season. That moved him past Peyton Manning into second place all-time in NFL history. Roberts became the 77th different player to catch a touchdown pass from Brady, an NFL record.

The first rally for New England came in the second quarter facing a 10-point deficit. They responded with consecutive drives that ended in points before the end of the half.

A 12-play drive that took just under five minutes resulted in three points for New England, while a 5-play 82-yard drive on the ensuing possession tied the score after a 4-yard touchdown run by Michel.

The Dolphins had initially jumped out to their 10-point lead in the first half thanks to a field goal on their second drive of the game and a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown by former Patriot CB Eric Rowe.

Miami’s other scores on the day came on a fourth-quarter field goal and a two-yard touchdown run by QB Ryan Fitzpatrick in the third quarter.