Julian Bennett grabbed a late equaliser against Bradford but other results meant even a win would have not earned Nottingham Forest a play-off spot.
The Bantams led when Dean Windass volleyed in Marc Bridge-Wilkinson's 30- yard shot - his 20th goal this season.
But Forest dominated and only some brilliant saves from keeper Donovan Ricketts kept the home side ahead.
The pressure told when Bennett bundled home an 87th-minute equaliser following a Kris Commons corner.
Bradford: Ricketts, Swift, Stewart, Wetherall, Bower, Colbeck, Bentham, Bridge-Wilkinson (Schumacher 71), Emanuel (Brown 86), Cadamarteri, Windass.
Subs Not Used: Howarth, Kearney, Muirhead.
Booked: Bentham, Stewart.
Goals: Windass 20.
Nottm Forest: Gerrard, Curtis (Lester 75), Morgan, Breckin, Bennett, Southall, Gary Holt, Perch, Commons, Grant Holt, Tyson.
Subs Not Used: Pedersen, Thompson, Cullip, Clingan.
Booked: Grant Holt, Morgan.
Goals: Bennett 88.
Ref: A Bates (Staffordshire).