MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – The celebratory mob scene in the corner of the end zone broke out far from Ryan Tannehill, leaving him in the open field, running and screaming as he waved his arms. Since he couldn’t find anyone to hug, he flopped to the grass on his back, the job done and the game won.
“I collapsed — just the emotion of the whole thing,” Tannehill said.
Sixteen seconds from defeat, Tannehill threw a short pass and then watched his teammates save the season with the “Drake Escape.”
Kenyan Drake ran the last 52 yards as the Dolphins scored on a pass and double lateral on the final play Sunday to beat the New England Patriots 34-33. With that, Miami lived up to its nickname — the Magic City.
“They just made one more play than we did,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.
And what a play. The Patriots were on the verge of clinching their 10th consecutive AFC East title when the Dolphins lined up at their 31 after a kickoff return trailing 33-28.
“We had them right where we wanted,” Tannehill said dryly. “Not really surprised with how things turned out.”
He threw a 14-yard pass to Kenny Stills, who lateraled to DeVante Parker, who quickly lateraled to Drake along the sideline. Drake cut toward the middle and found a seam, helped by a block from guard Ted Larsen at the 30.
Drake beat two Patriots to the corner of the end zone — defensive back J.C. Jackson and tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was on the field as part of New England’s prevent defense.
“Drake runs a 4.3, and Gronk probably runs a 4.6 or 4.7, so you feel good about that matchup,” Tannehill said.
Then came one last pass to punctuate the play — Drake reared back for a celebratory heave into the stands as the Dolphins’ bench emptied and teammates swarmed him.
“Football,” said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, “is a crazy game.”
The Dolphins call the play “Boise” because it was borrowed from the Boise State playbook, and they had been working on it all year.
“You rep it in practice over and over,” receiver Kenny Stills said. “Sometimes it’s like, ‘Why are we doing this?’ And now we know why.”
It brought to mind other NFL last-second stunners, including Roger Staubach’s “Hail Mary,” the “Miracle in the Meadowlands” and the “Immaculate Reception.” The play was the longest from scrimmage to win a game with no time remaining in the fourth quarter since the 1970 merger.
Brady threw for 358 yards and three scores, but the stunned Patriots (9-4) lost in Miami for the fifth time in their past six visits. The Dolphins (7-6) came from behind five times to help their slim wild-card chances.
“We’re playing one week at a time right now,” Miami coach Adam Gase said. “Any loss could be the end.”
The Patriots’ Stephen Gostkowski missed an extra point for the first time in 38 tries this season early in the game, and also missed a 42-yard field goal try. But his 32-yarder to cap a 55-yard drive put the Patriots ahead 30-28 with 6:45 left.
Belichick opted to have Gostkowski kick a 22-yarder in the closing seconds rather than pin the Dolphins near their goal line. Instead, Miami returned the ensuing kickoff to the 31 — and on the next play pulled off a miracle.
Brady broke the NFL record for career touchdown passes including postseason and now has 582, three more than Peyton Manning. His scores covered 2 yards to Julian Edelman, 37 to Cordarrelle Patterson and 16 to Gronkowski.
Tannehill missed two plays at the end of the first half after a teammate stepped on his right foot . He returned to start the second half, and his 23-yard touchdown pass to Brice Butler put the Dolphins ahead 28-27 late in the third quarter.
But they managed only three first downs and no points thereafter — until the final play.
Chiefs 27, Ravens 24 (OT)
In Kansas City, Harrison Butker atoned for a 43-yard miss as time expired with a 36-yard field goal in overtime, and the Chiefs stopped Baltimore on fourth down to clinch a playoff spot.
Kansas City (10-2) twice converted on fourth down before Patrick Mahomes threw a tying touchdown pass to Damien Williams with 53 seconds left. Moments later, Justin Houston strip-sacked Lamar Jackson to give Butker a chance to win the game for the Chiefs in regulation.
Saints 28, Buccaneers 14
In Tampa, Florida, Drew Brees threw for one touchdown and ran another to help New Orleans rally from an 11-point halftime deficit to clinch a second straight NFC South title.
Brees shrugged off a pair of turnovers to throw a 1-yard TD pass to Zach Line, then scored on a 1-yard sneak as the Saints (11-2) avenged a season-opening loss to the Bucs (5-8) and also rebounded from a defeat last week at Dallas.
Bears 15, Rams 6
In Chicago, Eddie Goldman led a dominant defensive effort, and the Bears shut down Jared Goff and Los Angeles’ high-powered offense.
The Rams (11-2) missed a chance to secure a first-round playoff bye and fell into a tie with New Orleans for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
In Other Games
Colts 24, Texans 21
Cowboys 29, Eagles 23 (OT)
Raiders 23, Steelers 21
Chargers 26, Bengals 21
Lions 17, Cardinals 3
49ers 20, Broncos 14
Browns 26, Panthers 20
Packers 34, Falcons 20
Giants 40, Redskins 16
Jets 27, Bills 23