Heavily favored Patriots let No. 2 seed slip away with loss to Dolphins

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In a shocking turn of events, the New England Patriots squandered the No. 2 seed and a bye in the AFC playoffs with a 27-24 loss to the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.

The Patriots' much-vaunted defense couldn't stop Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on a final drive that lasted 13 plays and covered 75 yards, culminating with tight end Mike Gesicki's 5-yard touchdown catch with 24 seconds remaining.

"We needed our best football. We didn't have it today," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "Hopefully it will be there next week."

The Dolphins, who entered the game with four wins and were a 17-point underdog, pulled off the largest upset of the NFL season, according to ESPN's Stats & Information.

The bye has been critical to the Patriots' Super Bowl success in the Belichick/Tom Brady era. Each of the six Super Bowls the Patriots won came when they had a first-round playoff bye. The last time they played in a wild-card game was 2009.

"It was a great chance for us to not play next week, so we didn't take advantage of it," Brady said. "We just didn't play good enough. We all wish we should have done a better job. Certainly I do."

Since 2001, the Patriots are 27-7 with the bye, with nine Super Bowl appearance and six championships. They are 3-3 without the bye.

The Patriots will host the Tennessee Titans in the wild-card round of the playoffs Saturday at 8:15 p.m.

"We got beat, and now we got to play next week," Brady said. "We got to play a lot better next week."

The result is the largest upset loss of Brady's career, as he was 30-0 as at least a 14-point favorite, according to ESPN's Stats & Information. Entering the game, Brady's worst career upset was as a 13.5-point favorite against Arizona in the second week of the 2012 season.

Overall, it is the Patriots' largest upset loss since Sept 18, 1978, when they were a 17-point favorite over Baltimore.

The Patriots still could have earned a No. 2 seed and playoff bye if the Kansas City Chiefs lost to the Los Angeles Chargers, but they wanted to take matters into their own hands. That's why they referred to the game against the Dolphins as a playoff contest.

But they didn't play with a postseason type of urgency, falling behind 10-0 in the second quarter after Brady threw an interception that cornerback Eric Rowe returned 35 yards for a touchdown. It was Brady's first pick-six since the 2017 season.

Brady was uncharacteristically inaccurate, going just 5-of-12 for 92 yards in the first half. He finished the game 15-of-28 for 221 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

His 13-yard touchdown pass to running back James White on a screen pass with 3:53 remaining in the fourth quarter gave the Patriots a 24-20 lead, but the defense couldn't hold.

"That's what we want, a chance to play defense to end the game and we didn't get it done," veteran safety Devin McCourty said. "When you don't do that on the last drive of the game and you let the team drive the field and score, that's what you get. We didn't execute really any situations out there, especially the last drive."

The upset was costly for one bettor at Caesars Sportsbook, who placed a six-figure money, five-team money-line parlay that, according to director of risk Jeff Davis, would've profited approximately $140,000 if the Patriots won. The bettor parlayed the Patriots along with the Saints, Packers, Chiefs and LSU, who each won their games.

Bookmaker William Hill U.S. reported taking a $74,430 money-line wager on the Patriots at -1,600. The bet, which was first reported by the Action Network, would've paid a net of $4,651.85.

A few bettors were also rewarded for big wagers on the Dolphins. John Murray, executive director of the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas, reported taking four $1,000 money-line bets on Miami at 10-1 from the same customer.

ESPN's David Purdum contributed to this report.