The preseason has come and gone for the Cincinnati Bengals, who fell 29-26 to the Miami Dolphins after surrendering a two-score lead in the fourth quarter.
The Bengals will now hunker down and work on trimming the roster down to 53 players by 4 pm ET on Tuesday, August 31st.
Here is a look at the biggest winners and losers from Cincinnati’s preseason finale.
Joe Burrow and Bengals fans: Everyone knew the best moment of this game was going to be when Joe Burrow made his triumphant return to the live game action inside PBS, and he was met with a roaring ovation from Bengals fans looking to make this feel like a regular-season game.
You just absolutely love to see it.
Khalid Kareem: After missing a good chunk of training camp and the preseason due to injury. Khalid Kareem may have secured his roster spot with his performance today. On Miami’s first possession, Kareem notched a pass deflection and a sack to end the drive. He also had a tackle for loss and a QB hit as he looks to lock down the No. 4 defensive end role behind Sam Hubbard, Trey Hendrickson and Darius Hodge.
Trenton Irwin: It’s hard to have a good game making just two catches, but Trenton Irwin showed some real toughness to haul his first pass in, which eventually led to the Bengals’ first score of the day.
Trenton Irwin is all GRIT.— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) August 29, 2021
Watch on CBS pic.twitter.com/RjpZCRDYe8
Irwin’s next catch came on the final drive as his 16-yard grab put the Bengals in Miami territory with under a minute to play. He’s firmly on the roster bubble, and while you would have liked to see him do more today, these were two really nice plays on what were his only targets of the day.
Chris Evans: There’s no doubt Chris Evans will be on the Bengals’ 53-man roster after his highlight-reel TD today that tied the game at 7-all. The only question now is if he’s done enough to earn playing time in the regular season. While he’s not taking snaps from Joe Mixon, Evans has certainly looked like an upgrade over Samaje Perine as the No. 2 back.
Trayveon Williams: While Evans likely has the No. 3 running back spot locked down, Trayveon Williams still had a chance to earn the No. 4 spot if the Bengals keep four backs. After missing the first two preseason games with a hamstring injury, Williams had a nice day to end the preseason with 44 yards on nine runs to go with two grabs for three yards. Unfortunately, for Williams, the guy he’s competing for the No. 4 back spot with also had a good game...
Jacques Patrick: After two solid preseason outings vs. Tampa Bay and Washington, Jacques Patrick ended things on a high note with 43 yards and a score on 10 carries. I think it’s safe to think one of Williams/Patrick will be on the roster and the other on the practice squad, though I won’t be surprised if the guy who gets waived is ultimately claimed by another team.
Brandon Allen: After looking very shaky in the first two preseason games, Brandon Allen reminded everyone why the coaching staff has had no doubt he’s the next man up if Joe Burrow can’t go. Allen finished the game 5/9 passing for 87 yards and one score on a gorgeous strike to Chris Evans between two Dolphins defenders.
Trayvon Henderson: Coming into this one, Trayvon Henderson was someone who needed a huge game to have any hope of making the Week 1 roster, and he came through. Henderson had multiple stops in the backfield and grabbed a second-quarter interception that led to the Bengals’ first touchdown of the day. At worst, he should be on the practice squad, but he’s certainly made things interesting when it comes to one of those final defensive back spots.
Darius Hodge: Another week, another sack for undrafted revelation out of Marshall, as Darius Hodge has made a strong case for significant playing time when regular-season play begins. He’s easily been the Bengals’ most consistent pass-rusher in all three preseason outings and is helping offset the loss of Joseph Ossai.
Thaddeus Moss: After missing all of his rookie season with a foot injury, Thaddeus Moss looks poised to make the 53-man roster after another solid showing. He’s not been lighting up the box score, but he’s consistently been the Bengals’ best tight end this preseason, and that continued today. It also helps that none of the other tight ends really did anything in this one or the other two preseason games for that matter.
Kyle Shurmur: After being an absolute disaster in his first two preseason games with the Bengals, Kyle Shurmur had a nice outing today that may make the Bengals take a hard look at keeping him on the practice squad as an emergency QB. His best play came in the red zone on a play he had to escape the pocket before throwing a strike to Scotty Washington early in the fourth quarter. He also looked good on the final drive that had the Bengals in field-goal range, but the Bengals opted to go for it on 4th down to avoid a preseason tie, and Shurmur’s pass to Washington was batted down to end the comeback.
Evan McPherson: Folks, the Bengals finally have a kicker. After hitting just about everything in training camp and the preseason thus far, McPherson made the biggest kick of his young career by nailing a 57-yarder going into halftime that would have tied the franchise record had this been a regular-season game.
If it was real , that ties longest kick in Bengals history— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) August 29, 2021
Trent Taylor: In what’s become a very heated battle for the final wide receiver spots, Trent Taylor likely secured one of them with his performance today. Already holding a slight lead for one of said spots, Taylor had a good outing that included a 45-yard catch off a bobbled pass and nearly powered his way into the end zone. Jacques Patrick would punch it in one play later from the one-yard line to put the good guys ahead 20-14.
Riley Reiff: The Bengals’ starting right tackle only played one series today, but it was one to forget. On 2nd and long, he committed a personal foul penalty that effectively killed the drive, then got pushed back into Joe Mixon on the ensuing 3rd-and-long run. The Bengals desperately need Reiff to step up and become the first reliable right tackle the team has had for a full season since...Andre Smith in 2013?
Ja’Marr Chase: Another stone-cold drop on his lone target, this one being on a screen that he bobbled away and nearly got intercepted. It’s been painfully obvious that Chase is struggling to adjust mentally and is thinking too much while forgetting to just reel the ball in.
Mitchell Wilcox: It’s been a close battle between Thaddeus Moss and Mitchell Wilcox for the final tight end spot, but it may be over now after Wilcox left the game with a concussion. With Tuesday being cutdown day, a concussion probably kills any hope he had of making the roster, so perhaps he’ll eventually land on the practice squad.
Trey Hill: Like Wilcox, Trey Hill needed a big showing today to have any hope of making the Week 1 roster, but a groin injury suffered in the first half killed those hopes. Because Hill was a sixth-round pick, look for the Bengals to get him on the practice squad unless this injury is bad enough to land him on IR.
The secondary on that hail-maryish play: UGH.
Now, let us know who stood out the most to you today in the comments section!