The Philadelphia Eagles and Tennessee Titans booked the final two play-off spots as the San Francisco 49ers claimed the top seed in the NFC but the New England Patriots suffered a huge upset to miss out on a first round bye.
While the 49ers edged out the Seattle Seahawks by a mere inch as they stopped their rivals right on the goal line in the final play of the game, the Patriots suffered their biggest shock defeat in 40 years to miss out on the second seed.
The Miami Dolphins produced the biggest upset of the season as their four-win side overcame being 17-point underdogs to stun the Patriots in New England – where they’ve been almost unbeatable of late.
Tom Brady threw his first pick six since 2017 and the famed Patriots defence couldn’t stop Miami quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick during their 27-24 success at Gillette Stadium.
It was a huge result given the Pats needed a win to secure a first round bye in the play-offs, something which has been part of their success story over the years as they’ve not played in the wildcard round in ten years.
An indication to the magnitude of the upset come from ESPN's Stats & Information service, which state it was the biggest upset defeat of Brady's career, as he’d previously been 30-0 when leading a team favourite by 14 points or more. It’s New England’s biggest upset loss since 1978.
As a result of the Patriots’ defeat, the Kansas City Chiefs bagged the second seed in the AFC as they beat the Los Angeles Chargers 31-21 at Arrowhead – where QB Patrick Mahomes was kept in the dark about events going on in New England by coach Andy Reid.
"There was no scoreboard at all that had any number of stats or anything like that," Mahomes said. "Then I saw that Brady had a touchdown and an interception and I was trying to add that together to figure out what the score was."
Mahomes had just one touchdown and 174 yards passing in a quiet display by his standards, but the Chiefs still had enough high-octane offence including Mecole Hardman’s stunning 104-yard kick-off return and Damien Williams’ monstrous 84-yard score.
Mahomes knows the importance of that first round bye, saying: "It's basically a win, that's what it is. You win the first round of the playoffs and you get to play a home game. We're excited for that."
The Tennessee Titans will now travel to Gillette to face the New England Patriots next week in the wildcard round after they beat the Houston Texans to claim the final AFC play-off spot.
In the NFC, the road to the Super Bowl will run through San Francisco after the 49ers earned a thrilling 26-21 success at the Seattle Seahawks thanks to a remarkable goal line stand on the final play of the game.
The 49ers earned their first top seeding since 1997 by just a few inches as Jacob Hollister was tackled right on the line by rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw, with multiple replays confirming that the Seattle man had been grounded agonisingly close to the line.
"I just knew that I had my foot on the goal line. I knew that they had to get into the end zone in order to win the game," said Greenlaw. "So I just made sure that my feet were on the goal line and just made a tackle that my coaches and team-mates would be proud of. Just happy with how the game ended and happy to be able to make the play."
The Philadelphia Eagles bagged the final spot in the NFC play-offs, and the NFC East divisional title as they overwhelmed the Giants 34-17 in New York - to also end the hopes of the Dallas Cowboys.
The Green Bay Packers are the second seed in the NFC and will enjoy a week off before entering the play-offs after they just about overcame the Detroit Lions 23-20 at Ford Field.
It was not the performance Green Bay wanted to go into the post-season with, but getting that week off will be crucial as they edged out the New Orleans Saints, who were far more impressive as they put away the Carolina Panthers 42-10.
NFL WEEK 17 RESULTS
- Pittsburgh Steelers 10-28 Baltimore Ravens
- New York Jets 13-6 Buffalo Bills
- New Orleans Saints 42-10 Carolina Panthers
- Cleveland Browns 23-33 Cincinnati Bengals
- Washington Redskins 16-47 Dallas Cowboys
- Green Bay Packers 23-20 Detroit Lions
- Tennessee Titans 35-14 Houston Texans
- Indianapolis Colts 20-38 Jacksonville Jaguars
- Los Angeles Chargers 21-31 Kansas City Chiefs
- Chicago Bears 21-19 Minnesota Vikings
- Miami Dolphins 27-24 New England Patriots
- Philadelphia Eagles 34-17 New York Giants
- Atlanta Falcons 28-22 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Oakland Raiders 15-16 Denver Broncos
- Arizona Cardinals 24-31 Los Angeles Rams
- San Francisco 49ers 26-21 Seattle Seahawks
Wildcard weekend (seeding)
Saturday January 4 (AFC)
- Buffalo Bills (5) @ Houston Texans (4) 9.35pm
- Tennessee Titans (6) @ New England Patriots (3) 1.15am (Sun)
Sunday January 5 (NFC)
- Minnesota Vikings (6) @ New Orleans Saints (3) 6.05pm
- Seattle Seahawks (5) @ Philadelphia Eagles (4) 9.40pm
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