Joe Burrow Makes Return as Bengals Fall to Dolphins With Tua Tagovailoa Sitting Out

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVAugust 29, 2021

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) hands off to running back Joe Mixon (28) during the first half of an NFL exhibition football game in Cincinnati, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
AP Photo/Aaron Doster

Joe Burrow played his first game snaps in over nine months, although the Miami Dolphins came out on top in a 29-26 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in the final preseason game for each team.

Burrow had been recovering from knee surgery that ended his rookie season after 10 games. The 2020 No. 1 overall draft pick played one series Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, setting up a full return in Week 1.

Tua Tagovailoa—the quarterback taken four picks after Burrow—didn't play at all for Miami, as the team rested most of its starters. Third-stringer Reid Sinnett got the opportunity instead and threw two fourth-quarter touchdowns for the come-from-behind victory.

The fourth-down touchdown with under two minutes remaining could go down as one of the best plays of the preseason.

Miami Dolphins @MiamiDolphins

OH MY <a href="https://twitter.com/ReidSinnett?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ReidSinnett</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/cmyarick?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@cmyarick</a>‼️<br><br>Watch <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MIAvsCIN?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MIAvsCIN</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/NFLonCBS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLonCBS</a> <a href="https://t.co/z7mQJUFTR3">pic.twitter.com/z7mQJUFTR3</a>

Other little-used players had the chance to prove themselves during the exhibition battle as teams finalize their rosters before the start of the 2021 season.

Notable Performances

Joe Burrow, QB, CIN: 0-of-1, 0 yards

Chris Evans, RB, CIN: three carries, 10 rushing yards, one catch, 29 receiving yards, TD

Kyle Shurmur, QB, CIN: 18-of-27, 206 passing yards, TD

Reid Sinnett, QB, MIA: 22-of-33, 343 passing yards, two TDs, INT

Gerrid Doaks, RB, MIA: 16 carries, 56 rushing yards, two TDs

Kirk Merritt, WR, MIA: three catches, 72 receiving yards, TD

Joe Burrow Can't Show Much in Brief Debut

Fans were certainly excited to see their franchise quarterback back on the field, giving Burrow a standing ovation for his first series:


A standing O for Burrow. 👏 <a href="https://twitter.com/JoeyB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@joeyb</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/Bengals?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Bengals</a><br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MIAvsCIN?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MIAvsCIN</a> on CBS<br>📱: <a href="https://t.co/1mKBUuWbnP">https://t.co/1mKBUuWbnP</a> <a href="https://t.co/BXuWFYczYr">pic.twitter.com/BXuWFYczYr</a>

The 24-year-old had a long road to recovery, and simply appearing in this game indicates he will be on the field in Week 1 as planned.

Unfortunately, this game didn't provide much of an opportunity to show his ability.

Burrow had one pass attempt: a screen that Ja'Marr Chase dropped.

Paul Dehner Jr. @pauldehnerjr

And, you won't believe this, they run a bubble screen for Ja'Marr Chase and he drops it. Wow.

Drops have been an issue for Chase in his first preseason, and this brief appearance didn't do anything to quiet the concerns.

The rest of the drive featured a two-yard run by Tyler Boyd and a five-yard run by Joe Mixon, leading to a punt and the end of the day for the first-team offense. There is enough talent to expect more during the regular season, but the Bengals didn't want to risk any injuries before the games count.

Other players were still able to take advantage of the opportunities, including running back Chris Evans.

The rookie sixth-round pick had 10 rushing yards on three carries, although he especially turned heads with his receiving touchdown.

Cincinnati Bengals @Bengals

The rookie can ball (<a href="https://twitter.com/Kidnplay_abc123?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Kidnplay_abc123</a>) <br><br>Watch on CBS <a href="https://t.co/2xJMT25uqT">pic.twitter.com/2xJMT25uqT</a>

Ben Baby @Ben_Baby

Brandon Allen with a great ball on a 29-yard TD pass to Chris Evans, who does a great job bringing it in. Shows why the Bengals coaching staff was so high on him in pre-draft.

Evans had just 16 rushing attempts as a backup at Michigan last season, but he might have done enough to earn a role on a thin depth chart behind Mixon.

Former San Francisco 49ers receiver Trent Taylor had three catches on the day, although one came on a fortunate bounce that reminded fans it was still the preseason:

Cincinnati Bengals @Bengals

Take a moment to admire this <a href="https://twitter.com/Trent5Taylor?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Trent5Taylor</a> highlight. <br><br>Watch on CBS <a href="https://t.co/ltqjjQN2YF">pic.twitter.com/ltqjjQN2YF</a>

Cincinnati will hope for more luck once the regular season begins.

Gerrid Doaks, Reid Sinnett Stand Out Among Dolphins Reserves

Different teams have used different strategies for the third preseason game, but the Dolphins weren't taking any chances Sunday, with most of their starters unavailable.

Andy Cohen @ACohenFins

Glad the Dolphins are resting their starters today. Seen too many weird things happen in a meaningless preseason game. Now they can move on to roster cuts and, of course, the Patriots.

Of those still on the field, running back Gerrid Doaks was someone who likely impressed the coaching staff.

The Cincinnati product scored twice near the goal line:

Miami Dolphins @MiamiDolphins

💪 <a href="https://twitter.com/gdoaks23?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@gdoaks23</a> powers his way through to start the scoring. <br><br>📺 Watch <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MIAvsCIN?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MIAvsCIN</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/NFLonCBS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLonCBS</a> <a href="https://t.co/c5oSPbPjJD">pic.twitter.com/c5oSPbPjJD</a>

Miami Dolphins @MiamiDolphins

DOAKS x 2! <a href="https://twitter.com/gdoaks23?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@gdoaks23</a> takes it in for his second TD of the afternoon.<br><br>📺 &gt;&gt; Watch <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MIAvsCIN?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MIAvsCIN</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/NFLonCBS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLonCBS</a> <a href="https://t.co/6RjDOoLUoa">pic.twitter.com/6RjDOoLUoa</a>

With the running back roles mostly undefined for Miami, the 6'0", 230-pound Doaks could continue to see action in short-yardage situations.

Armando Salguero @ArmandoSalguero

Gerrid Doaks is a load in short yardage and near the goal line. Just saying.

Travis Wingfield @WingfieldNFL

Sure do like Gerrid Doaks on those short yardage runs -- that was a nifty little jump cut right after the mesh point.<br><br>Dolphins 3's go down the field for 7 on the Bengals 1's -- gotta love that.

Sinnett wasn't looking at much playing time behind Tagovailoa or Jacoby Brissett, although he stole the show with his big plays in the closing minutes.

Miami Dolphins @MiamiDolphins

.<a href="https://twitter.com/ReidSinnett?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ReidSinnett</a> with a 🎯 to <a href="https://twitter.com/kirkmerritt33?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@kirkmerritt33</a> for the Touchdown!<br><br>📺 &gt;&gt; Watch <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MIAvsCIN?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MIAvsCIN</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/NFLonCBS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLonCBS</a> <a href="https://t.co/ohIJ252lVq">pic.twitter.com/ohIJ252lVq</a>

Cameron Wolfe @CameronWolfe

Wow, what a 4th quarter comeback by Dolphins 3rd-string QB Reid Sinnett. Doing a great job to play himself on somebody’s active roster.<br><br>Sinnett stuck in there taking a big hit heaving a deep ball into end zone on 4th and 15 to Chris Myarick for a TD.

With over 300 passing yards in the game, Sinnett showed he deserves a job somewhere during the 2021 regular season.

On the defensive side of the ball, first-round pick Jaelan Phillips saw action with a few quality reps.

Travis Wingfield @WingfieldNFL

Jaelan Phillips puts the heat on Brandon Allen – like to see that closing speed

The linebacker could provide some much-needed help to the Dolphins pass rush this season.

Miami was otherwise happy to put the preseason in the rearview mirror as it prepares for Week 1.

What's Next?

The Dolphins open the regular season with a key division battle against the New England Patriots on Sept. 12. The Bengals will host the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1.