By Kayla Morton and Carl Mahler
The Miami Dolphins went in to New England and beat the Patriots for the first time since 2008 on Sunday. Miami scored a game winning touchdown from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to tight end Mike Gesicki with 29 seconds remaining to take the game 27-24.
“Every win, and any win is a big one to me. That’s a very good football team. Great coaches, great players. This is a tough environment. It’s hard to win on the road in this league. So, our guys played hard, they competed for 60 minutes. It took all 60 minutes. And I’m proud of that group, I am proud of that group,” Dolphins head coach Brian Flores said.
Miami forces New England to play in Wild Card Weekend
The loss forces New England (12-4) out of the No. 2 position in the American Football Conference (AFC) Playoffs and into the No. 3 position, giving it a Wild Card Weekend matchup with the No. 6 Tennessee Titans (9-7). The Patriots will play in the wild card round for the first time since 2010. New England has made the playoffs every year since 2009, but 2010 and now 2019, are the only years it hasn’t earned a first round bye. Miami’s win marked the first time Flores beat his former team, after the Dolphins fell 43-0 to their foe in week two.
“I think it meant a lot to him (Flores). Not only because it is New England, but just as a first-year head coach with a lot of turnover of the team,” corner back Eric Rowe said.
For the Dolphins (5-11), Fitzpatrick’s only passing TD of the game couldn’t have come at a better time. He added his one passing and one rushing score to his 28-for-41 passing game, good for 320 passing yards, and zero interceptions. Gesicki’s TD recpetion capped off his four-catch day for 34 yards.
CB Eric Rowe gets first pick-six of his career
Miami’s other TD in the game came in the second quarter when Rowe intercepted Tom Brady for a 31-yard pick-six. The pick-six was the former Patriots’ first of his career.
“I was just so happy in my head after I scored. I was like, ‘Man this is the stadium I used to play in’, and I get a pick six and to make it better now with a win, that means everything,” Rowe said.
Sunday saw a back-and-forth battle
A Jason Sanders 27-yard field goal in the first quarter jumped the Dolphins out to a 10-0 lead before New England kicker Nick Folk knocked in a 25-yard FG and running back Sony Michel punched it in from four yards out to tie the game at 10 going into the half.
Miami struck first after halftime as Fitzpatrick called his own number and scored from two yards out up the middle. New England answered with a trick play, as it reported inside linebacker Elandon Roberts as an eligible receiver on offense. The decision got the Patriots a 38-yard TD reception to him to tie the game at 17.
Sanders converted a 32-yard FG to start the fourth quarter before RB James White gave the Patriots their first lead of the game on a 13-yard TD run. New England would see Fitzpatrick sprinkle his magic one more time on the game-winning drive to end the game, as its Hail Mary attempts in the game’s final seconds were unsuccessful. Brady finished the game going 16-for-29 for 217 yards, two TD’s and one INT.
“We had to move him (Brady) off of his spot in the pocket,” Rowe said. “Try to get pressure on him and his o-line, and stop 11 (Julian Edelman). That was the game plan.”
WR DeVante Parker left CB Stephon Gilmore in the dust
While Dolphins’ wide receiver DeVante Parker did not reach the double-digit TD mark this season, that would have been the first time in his career, he was once again the leading receiver for them on the day. He caught eight of 11 targets for 137 yards. Albert Wilson was the WR closest to him, as he finished with 59 yards on five catches (eight targets).
The best part about Parker’s day was how he was able to expose Patriots’ CB Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore was matched up with Parker on 40-of-45 snaps (89-percent) and surrendered seven catches on nine targets and 119 yards. It was the most receptions and yards given up by Gilmore since joining New England in 2017.
On to 2020
“There are a lot of positives to build on but I think that moving forward we know what we are capable, there is a lot of talent in this locker room and I am just looking forward to attacking this off-season and coming back next season even stronger,” Gesicki said.
Miami holds the fifth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft that will take place next April.