Fitzpatrick Proved Truly Magical Against Raiders
“Fitzmagic,” a nickname given for Ryan Fitzpatrick at his best, never had a better showcase than December 26, 2020. On the road against the Las Vegas Raiders and trailing by two, Miami started its drive at its own 25 with only 19 seconds left. Ryan throws an undethrown pass that Mack Hollins adjusts to and catches at the Raiders 41. Hollins stopped and waited for the ball because Fitzpatrick looks out his earhole when he throws the ball. Clelin Ferrell, number 99 for the Raiders, grabs Ryan’s facemask and almost appears to twist his head off. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HO6iYo8r4U&t=63s The clip for the play starts at 1:03 in the video.
Miami won the game 26-25 on a 44 yard field goal by Jason Sanders with one second left. That one play perfectly captured Fitzpatrick at his best for Miami. This play, along with his 5 yard touchdown pass to Mike Gesicki to beat the New England Patriots the last week of the season the year before, represent the two greatest moments of Fitzmagic for Miami.
Ryan’s Wizardry Well Traveled
Fitzpatrick displayed his gunslinger ways for nine different teams. They say that the backup quarterback is the most popular player for any NFL team, and Ryan proved that to be true. After graduating Harvard University the then St Louis Rams drafted him in the seventh round, the 250th pick, of the 2005 NFL draft. His time in St Louis proved typical of almost his entire career: some great games, such as his performance against the comeback win against the Houston Texans, and some truly low moments two weeks later when threw 5 interceptions against the Minnesota Vikings.
He would barely play for the Cincinnati Bengals the following two seasons, backing up starter Carson Palmer. The stats for Fitzpatrick accumulated for the Buffalo Bills the next four season proved typical for his entire career: 11,632 yards, 80 touchdowns but also 64 interceptions.
Ryan’s short stints with the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans led to him being picked up by the New York Jets. He set career highs in yards at 3,915 and touchdowns with 31 as a starter in 2015. The Jets finished 10-6, one game short of the playoffs. He spent the 2016 season as the Jets starter before becoming a free agent after the season when New York voided his contract.
The next stop for Ryan would be in Tampa Bay. He both started for the Buccaneers and backed up Jameis Winston. His highest passer rating for a season, 100.4, came in 2018 for the team. Fitzpatrick spent the next two seasons, 2019-21, backing up Tua Tagovailoa the last two but also subbing in for him when Tua struggled. That led to moments such as the pass against the Raiders. Unfortunately Fitzpatrick ended up on the Covid/ exempt list the last week of the 19-20 season. Miami lost to the Buffalo Bills and Ryan fell one game short of the playoffs again. His best completion percentage for a season, 68.5 percent, came in 2020 for Miami. He finished with 5,620 yards, 33 touchdowns, and 21 interceptions in his two seasons for the Dolphins.
Fitzpatrick’s Personality Showed In His Play
Unfortunately his ended in a way other than Ryan wanted. Fitzpatrick signed with the then Washington Football Team, now Commanders, after the 2021 season. The hip injury he suffered in his first game for them ultimately forced him to retire.
Fitzmagic represented the way he played the game. It showed in his gunslinger mentality and bushy beard. The open collar and gold chains he wore to Tampa Bay postgame press conference. Few backup, journeyman, spot starting quarterbacks could bring fans so much joy and at times, yes, frustration as he could. His career record of 59-87-1 won’t be what anyone remembers. Nor will 34,990 yards, 223 touchdowns, and 169 interceptions. Sports always feel a little less exciting and fun when great personalities retire. That, more than anything, is why so many already miss Ryan Fitzpatrick.
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