The Miami Dolphins defeated the Dallas Cowboys last night in Sun Life Stadium, winning 17-3, in a game featuring virtually no starters. Unlike most preseason game fours, which see the starters come out for a series or two, both teams elected to sit their starters due to the rain and a wet field.
But, in a game of dire consequence for the guys hoping to make the team, the starters resting on the sideline meant more opportunities for them to demonstrate why they should make it through this week's final cuts and earn a place on the 53-man roster.
Two veterans took full advantage of the opportunity.
Cornerback Will Allen, who had not seen a game field since 2009 before last week, came out and made his presence known. The Cowboys looked to attack the veteran corner, and Allen responded. On their first pass play, Dallas swung a pass out to fullback Chris Gronkowski in the flat, and Allen immediately closed in, solidly taking the Gronkowsi's legs out from under him. And that's exactly what Allen's performance was - solid.
In the highlight of the game, Cowboys quarterback Stephen McGee dropped back to pass on third down and goal from the two-yard line, looking toward the endzone. Allen was trapped trying to cover two receivers, one at the front of the endzone and one at the back. McGee lofted the pass toward the back receiver, tight end Martin Rucker, and Allen broke. Suddenly, there he was, knocking the ball away and into the waiting arms of safety Tyrone Culver. The Cowboys never really threatened the endzone again. Allen finished the game with 4 tackles, and the pass defensed - but, even more importantly, Allen seemed everywhere every time he was on the field.
Meanwhile, on the offensive side of the ball, veteran running back Larry Johnson would make his own case for continuing on with the Dolphins. He carried the ball 10 times, for 39 yards. He also scored the Dolphins first points on a 22-yard first quarter run. Johson took a pitch running right, waited for his blockers and wove his way through multiple Cowboys before hitting the next gear and running away from everyone. Although it was only one play from an aging player, it was reminiscent of the Larry Johnson who dominated the league for a couple of years in Kansas City.
Backup quarterback Matt Moore also demonstrated his value to the team Thursday night. Finishing the game with a 149.1 passer rating, the highest rating of a Dolphins' QB this preseason, Moore showed he is ready if something should happen to starter Chad Henne. Moore ended his time on the field, going 9-for-11 for 142 yards, and an 18-yard touchdown strike to tight end Jeron Mastrud.
The passing highlight of the game came from Moore in the third period, when he found a streaking rookie wide receiver Clyde Gates for a 42-yards completion. Gates, who the Dolphins are hoping can use his blazing speed to provide a deep threat the team has sorely been missing, simply out ran the Cowboys defense. In fact, if Moore had added a little more to the pass, Gates might still be running today.
Overall, the Dolphins had a solid game, including reducing last week's 11 penalties to 2 this week, for a total of 15-yards. This team prides itself on discipline, and last night, it acted like it.
Throughout the preseason, the Dolphins have gotten stronger and stronger, looking more and more prepared for the regular season, cleaning up the mistakes of the previous week. Different players have had special moments throughout the preseason, from quarterback Chad Henne stepping up to the starter's role, to Brandon Marshall publicly dealing with his Borderline Personality Disorder, from Jimmy Wilson overcoming his past to Will Allen trying to ensure he has a future.
With all the different moments and performances, it's time for you, The Phinsider community to decide, who was our RedZone player of the preseason. Vote below, and we'll see who we think was our best player, had the best performance, and/or set us up for the regular season.