FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Heading into Sunday's game with the Miami Dolphins, the goal was simple for the Patriots: beat the lowly 4-11 Dolphins and they would clinch the second seed in the AFC, which results in a first round bye in the playoffs.
Unfortunately for New England, Miami didn't get the memo as former Patriots' Assistant Coach Brian Flores' squad ruined the Pats plans for a week off, when Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Mike Gesecki in the back of the end-zone for the go ahead touchdown with twenty four seconds left to give the Dolphins the 27-24 victory.
Patriots players all week were saying they were treating the Week 17 match up like a playoff game. Tom Brady was asked about that during his post game press conference.
"Well, it was a great chance for us to not play next week. So, we didn’t take advantage of it. We just didn’t play good enough and we all wish we would have done a better job. Certainly I do," Brady said.
As the game concluded at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots and their fans only saving grace for a bye was gone when the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Los Angeles Chargers 31-21 minutes later.
New England will now have to do something they haven't done in a decade: play on Wild Card Weekend.
The last time the Patriots played in the first round was a disaster — they were crushed by the Baltimore Ravens 33-14 on Jan. 10, 2010.
Safety Devin McCourty knows that the team has to turn the page quickly and move on if they want to make a run in the postseason.
"We’ve got a game next week, we’ve got to get ready to go. Nobody feels sorry for us, we shouldn’t feel sorry for ourselves. Our goal is to play in the playoffs. We’ve got a shot next week at all of that," McCourty said. "We're disappointed, wanted to play better, wanted to win today, but we didn’t. We’ve got to move forward and get ready to go or the end of our season will be next week if we don’t turn the page and play good football, way better than today."
Next up for the Patriots — the Tennessee Titans, led by former Pats-Linebacker-turned-Head-Coach Mike Vrabel and a resurgent Ryan Tannehill at quarterback.
The Titans clinched the sixth and final playoff spot when they took down the Houston Texans 35-14 on Sunday. The two franchises have met twice in the playoffs previously, with the Patriots winning both. The most recent came two seasons ago when the Patriots won 35-14 at Gillette Stadium.
Kickoff is at 8:15 p.m. on Saturday.