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Mile markers on the road to Miami: Fitzmagic

During Super Bowl week, we’re looking at the road the Chiefs traveled to reach Super Bowl LIV.

Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

We’re looking at the key mile markers in the Kansas City Chiefs’ road to Miami.

It’s been a long, difficult path for this team to attain heights they haven’t reached in 50 years. We’re profiling the biggest stories along the way to Super Bowl LIV.

A few days after Christmas, the Kansas City Chiefs (and their fans) received a late present that would drastically change their outlook on their postseason.

But an old, bearded man in a red suit didn’t drop it under Andy Reid’s tree.

Instead, a different old, bearded man — this one wearing aqua and white — went into the NFL’s toughest road environment and shook a dynasty to its core.

I am, of course, talking about veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Miami Dolphins performing some Fitzmagic by defeating the New England Patriots in Foxborough during Week 17.

It happened in two different stadiums 1,200 miles away from each other.

The Chiefs were playing the Los Angeles Chargers at home, hoping to end the regular season with a six-game winning streak that would give them a chance a first-round playoff bye — but only if the Patriots were to fall to the Dolphins.

The Patriots were coming into the game with a 12-3 record, needing only to win at home to secure the AFC’s second seed. The Dolphins were 4-11 — and already assured a last-place finish in the AFC East.

The Dolphins had lost ten straight in Foxborough. To give you some perspective, the last time the Dolphins had won there in 2008, Carl Peterson was the general manager in Kansas City. Herm Edwards was the head coach and Tyler Thigpen was the starting quarterback.

So you see the problem.

In Kansas City, the game was largely dull during the first half. The Chiefs led 10-7 when the teams went to the locker rooms. In Foxborough, the Dolphins and Patriots ended the half tied at 10 after an Eric Rowe pick-6.

The Chiefs started with the ball in the third quarter. On the second play, Patrick Mahomes threw an interception to set up a short field for the Chargers, who punched it in for a touchdown.

After that, everything turned up Chiefs.

Right after the Chargers had taken a 14-10 lead, Mecole Hardman sparked the team with a kickoff return for a touchdown. The defense forced a punt. On the next play, the Chiefs scored on an 84-yard run by Damien Williams that made the score 24-14. The Chargers came back with an 8-yard pass to Hunter Henry to get back to within a field goal.

Around the same time at Gillette Stadium, the Dolphins kicked a field goal to pull ahead 20-17. But the Patriots scored again to take a 24-20 lead.

By then, CBS announcer Kevin Harlan — who was calling the Chiefs game — had gradually started calling both games simultaneously.

At Arrowhead, Damien Williams ran seven yards for a touchdown to put the Chiefs up by 10 again. As the Chiefs kicked the extra point, Fitzpatrick finished orchestrating a 75-yard drive culminating in a touchdown pass to Mike Gesicki that gave the Dolphins a 27-24 lead with just 29 seconds left.

As the Chiefs ran out the clock, the Patriots desperately tried to get into field goal range. They failed — and Harlan called it all.

The Dolphins’ improbable win gave Kansas City the second seed and a first-round bye

To get it, the Chiefs had to reel off six straight wins — one of them against New England on the road to own the tiebreaker — so they certainly earned their extra week of recovery and preparation for the playoffs. It’s just that no one expected the Dolphins — with nothing to play for — would pull it off.

The celebration in Arrowhead will likely go down as one of the more memorable moments in Chiefs history. After that, everyone knew that 2019 wasn’t a normal season.

From halfway across the continent, the Chiefs had experienced Fitzmagic. It felt like destiny. The team had been through a lot to get to that point, scratching and clawing for every chance.

It just had to end in something special.

Coming on Friday: New playoff success.

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