All the New England Patriots had to do was prevent a Miami Dolphins' 70-yard miracle touchdown with seven seconds left, and a 10th straight AFC East crown would be theirs.
But the Dolphins used a series of lateral plays to piece together one of the most incredible game-winning plays in NFL history. Running back Kenyan Drake ran through the wall of Patriots defenders and sprinted past tight end Rob Gronkowski - en route to the end zone and miracle touchdown.
You can view the play below, and you'll notice how Gronkowski stumbled and failed to get the proper angle on Drake, allowing Miami to escape with a shocking 34-33 victory.
After the game, Patriots players struggled to explain how the event unfolded, and why Gronkowski was left on the field. The Pats usually put their 6-foot-6 tight end out to defend against Hail Mary situations, where he can use his great size and hands to knock down or intercept passes.
"We knew what was going to go down. They’re too far to throw a Hail Mary, so we knew it was going to be a lateral situation," safety Duron Harmon said, per ESPN.com's Mike Reiss.
"I knew it wasn’t going to be a Hail Mary,"fellow safety Devin McCourty added. "He would have had to throw the ball pretty far to reach the end zone.
"They could throw it deep or they could have run the Desperado-type play, which is kind of an in-between 20-yard pass and then it turned into Desperado," head coach Bill Belichick said after the game.
The Dolphins were in no position to try a 70-yard heave to the end zone. The Patriots should have put McCourty - one of the game's fastest and best open field tacklers - back there instead of Gronkowski.
Drake was easily able to get past a stumbling Gronkowski, whose speed is absolutely no match for the flashy Miami running back. If McCourty was out there, perhaps he makes the tackle and helps the Pats clinch the division title.
Instead, New England is enduring its most shocking regular season loss in history, while the Dolphins are celebrating one of the greatest miracle wins ever.
What This Means
Miami keeps its playoff hopes alive at 7-6; they're in a four-way tie for the final wild card spot in the AFC. The goal now is to build off this miracle win and try to win out.
As for the Patriots, this loss puts them two games behind the Kansas City Chiefs for the top seed in the AFC. They're also tied with the Houston Texans for the second seed in the AFC, so the loss might cost them a chance at a first-round bye.