Sunday's second half at Paul Brown Stadium, quarterbacked by Kyle Shurmur, saw the Bubble Bengals make one final case in the preseason finale with the final cut to 53 players set for Tuesday and the Dolphins stole a 29-26 victory on a fourth-and-15 Hail Mary from quarterback Reid Sinnett with 1:21 left.
Undrafted free agent rusher Darius Hodge just missed Sinnett on a rush after Sinnett avoided edge Noah Spence and Hodge kept going and drilled Sinnett as he gunned it into the end zone. Tight end Chris Myarick leaped between cornerback Winston Rose, safety Trayvon Hernderson and linebacker Joe Bachie for a stunning 34-yard touchdown pass.
Then Sinnett threw to wide-open running back Malcolm Perry for the two-pointer and the Bengals didn't go for a tying field goal from the Dolphins 32.
The Bengals backups were put in a first-and-26 hole on consecutive holds by wide receiver Trent Taylor and tight end Mason Schreck on the first two snaps of the second half.
Tight end Thaddeus Moss, in a fight for the third spot with Schreck and Mitchell Wilcox, made a play after Wilcox left with a concussion and caught an 18-yard pass. Stanley Morgan, Jr., embroiled in a scrum with Trent Taylor and Trenton Irwin for back-up receiver spots, caught a 13-yarder.
But then Morgan dropped what might have been a screen and it was deflected it to Taylor on the perimeter and he took off for 45 yards down to the 1. Taylor, the four-year vet, came in with just one catch for three yards and needed the reps.
Then, running back Jacques Patrick, hoping they keep four running backs behind Joe Mixon, Samaje Perine and Chris Evans, lowered his shoulder for a one-yard touchdown behind right guard D'Ante Smith after he played most of the first half at left guard. Michael Jordan went into that spot for his first action of the day.
That gave the Bengals a 20-14 lead early in the third quarter.
Then on Miami's next possession undrafted rookie edger Darius Hodge, nailed for getting in the neutral zone on third-and-10, came back on the next snap to get underneath tackle Greg Little for a sack. That gave Hodge 2.5 sacks for the preseason and very well a roster spot on the defensive line.
With offensive line coach Frank Pollack mixing it up, when the Bengals got the ball back Jordan was at left guard and rookie Jackson Carman, who played most of the first half at right guard, returned in a drive the Bengals kept it for 11 plays and more than six minutes.
Bengals running back Trayveon Williams, playing for the first time in the preseason and trying to claw past Patrick, turned a stretch run behind left tackle Fred Johnson for 15 and on third-and-four Patrick pounded it behind Jordan for a first down at the Dolphins 13.
When Shurmur bought some time in the pocket on third-and-6, he found wider receiver Scotty Washington on the back line for a nine-yard touchdown pass that made it 26-14 with ten minutes left when the two-pointer failed.
They couldn't put it away. Quarterback Reid Sinnett had plenty of time to throw and hit wide receiver Kirk Merritt beating rookie cornerback Antonio Phillips for a 44-yard touchdown pass that cut it to 26-21 with 5:57 left.
The Bengals couldn't run any clock. On third-and-two with 4:31 left, Patrick got stoned for a yard when he tried to go behind D'Ante Smith. But Smith came out of it on the wrong end. He got moved and he came out of it limping and the Bengals had to punt.
Miami promptly drove to the Bengals 37 at the two minute-warning and Sinnett conspired with the impossible. Rookie defensive lineman Cam Sample came up with a sack on second down and edge Amani Bledsoe read a screen to set up the fourth-and-15.