That's a wrap! The exhibition season is over and the next time the Miami Dolphins take the field, they will do so against a divisional foe in a game that counts in the win-loss column. Tomorrow, the roster will trim from 80 players down to 53 as we are just 13 Dan Marino days away from the start of another football season.
We'll get to the three takeaways from the victory, but first a reminder.
If you haven't done so already, download the latest edition of the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield as we cover the takeaways, position-by-position standouts, and much more from the thrilling 29-26 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Check out the top photos from Preseason Week 3 - Dolphins vs. Bengals on August 29, 2021, presented by Verizon.
1. Sinnett to Win It
Reid Sinnett passed for 343 yards and a pair of long fourth quarter touchdowns in his first ever preseason start. The passing total was the most by any NFL player in the preseason since at least 2017. The first touchdown toss, a beautiful downfield dime to Kirk Merritt for a 44-yard score, brought Miami within five of Cincinnati. Though the next pass to paydirt was 10 yards shorter – a 34-yard strike to Chris Myarick – the probability of the play was as unlikely as they come.
Facing fourth-and-15 from the Bengals 34-yard line, Sinnett had to immediately evade a rusher to keep the play – and the game – alive. The pirouette he used to force the missed tackle sent the Miami quarterback retreating behind midfield. As he rolled right, all of his pass options eschewed the opportunity for a first down in search of the jackpot in the end zone. By the time he uncorked it, Sinnett was at the Dolphins 46-yard line and somehow found Myarick near the front pylon between a quartet of Bengals defenders.
"I got knocked down and didn't even see the ball get caught," Sinnett said. "I got the wind knocked out of me and I'm sitting there expecting the game to be over and I hear our guys start cheering. It was a fun moment. I'm glad it was Chris (Myarick) that caught it. I've gotten to watch him work all summer. We've worked together a lot this offseason and it was great to watch all of these guys have success today."
2. Disciplined Football
Since Brian Flores' 2019 arrival, the Dolphins commit the second-fewest penalties in the NFL, and the 2021 preseason continued that trend. Only the Denver Broncos committed fewer fouls for less yards than Miami's 11 penalties accepted against and 107 yards assessed on those flags this exhibition season.
"We talk about trying to play penalty free," Flores said following the Atlanta game. "We spend a lot of time on it. We don't want to go backwards. We want to go forward with the ball. We don't want to give up yardage with penalties defensively or in the kicking game. We try to play within the rules, play aggressive and physical and with poise. Hopefully we can continue to do that. Penalties happen, but we try to eliminate them as much as we can."
3. Play For the Man Beside You
The 2020 Dolphins made no secrets about their affinity for one another. Just go back to the television copy of Miami's games and peep the sideline shots after decisive moments went the Dolphins' way. The scene was the same Sunday in Cincinnati, players celebrating the individual victories of their teammates as if they were their own.
"There are a lot of things that I like," Flores said postgame in Cincinnati. "I think we've got a good group that works hard. They have good camaraderie. They have fun playing together. Hopefully people who watch us can see that. They've really worked hard. I think we're moving in the right direction but there's still a lot of work to be done."
The Dolphins have to get from 80 players to 53 by 4 PM Tuesday. In his Monday media availability, Flores communicated that he believes they will have to part ways with some players who will catch on somewhere else; a nod to the depth of the roster curated by Chris Grier and his front office staff. The presence of those players on the club throughout the offseason comes with an added advantage.
"I think we've had a very competitive group at all positions," Flores said. "The guys we may have to move on from, I think in a lot of instances, just in our conversations this morning, they have made our team better because they have pushed some of the guys that we are going to keep. I think probably some of the things that we are seeing is that there has been a lot of good competition and that has pushed guys and helped some other guys play a little bit better. Like I said, there's going to be some guys that we feel are roster-players in this league and we have to move on from them. I think they certainly helped our team this training camp."