Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick out vs. Bills after testing positive for COVID-19

The Miami Dolphins won't have their relief QB as they fight for a playoff berth Sunday versus the Buffalo Bills.

Miami quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick tested positive for COVID-19 and is out for Sunday, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero and NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. The team later announced the veteran QB has been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

His positive test means there will be no FitzMagic in a pivotal Week 17 game.

The NFL conducted contact tracing following Fitzpatrick's positive test, and no other players were identified as high-risk close contacts, including starter Tua Tagovailoa, Pelissero reported.

Coach Brian Flores benched Tagovailoa in the fourth quarter last week, inserting Fitzpatrick, who jumpstarted a sullen offense, leading to a dramatic comeback win over the Las Vegas Raiders. The FitzMagic-led victory put the Dolphins in a position for a win-and-in season finale.

"It hurts," Dolphins safety Eric Rowe said, per, of Fitzpatrick's positive test. "He's a leader on our team. He brings energy. I'm sure it's worse for him because he loves the game and no one wants to catch COVID. With that, you have to push forward."

Despite benching Tua twice this year, Flores kept the rookie as the starter entering this week. The thought process followed that at least the Dolphins could insert Fitzpatrick once again if Tagovailoa struggles against Buffalo.

COVID-19 changed the game yet again.

The loss of Fitzpatrick is larger than most backups. Miami went 4-3 in games he started, and he became Flores' closer whenever Tagovailoa sputtered. Sunday, in a virtual must-win, the rookie won't have a backstop.

In order to make their first postseason since 2016, and first under Flores, the Dolphins need Tua at his best. The rookie was sublime in beating the Cardinals back in Week 8, but we haven't seen the same play since. Tagovailoa hasn't stretched the field much this season, ranking 26th in the NFL with just 29.3 percent of his attempts going 10-plus air yards. Tua's magical 10-2 TD-INT ratio belies a plethora of passes the rookie is lucky haven't been intercepted this season.

The Alabama product said this week he doesn't feel additional pressure with the playoffs on the line. Miami needs its first-round pick to prove it Sunday. There is no FitzMagic to turn to if Tagovailoa struggles in Week 17.

The Dolphins signed Jake Rudock, who was on their practice squad earlier this season, to the active roster to be the backup to Tagovailoa. They also placed linebacker Elandon Roberts on injured reserve and activated wide receiver Kirk Merritt as a COVID-19 replacement for Sunday's game.

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