An emotionally-charged encounter during Miami's 19-7 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday demonstrated just how passionate the team, as well as its head coach, is about sticking together when the going gets tough.
After receiver Jakeem Grant took a cheap shot from Bengals WR Mike Thomas on a second consecutive punt return early in the fourth quarter, Dolphins coach Brian Flores, in the midst of a sideline-clearing brawl, was one of the first people out on the field protesting the hit.
Never one to mince words, Flores explained his mindset and actions after the game.
"We've got to do a better job of keeping our poise. That starts with me. I've got to do a better job of keeping my poise," Flores said, via the team's official transcript. "But, look, I'm going to stick up for my players. They're going to stick up for each other without getting penalties, without hurting the team, but we've got to do a better job of keeping our poise as a team."
The scene got ugly fast as Grant laid on the field for a few moments following the hit while players and coaches from both sidelines stormed the field. A visibly upset Flores could be seen giving officials an earful from behind his mask as he was being restrained.
"The people in this organization, they're very important to me. I'm going to try to protect everyone here," Flores explained.
Thomas, who was flagged for unneccessary roughness for hitting Grant on the previous punt, was called for kick catch interference. Dolphins receivers DeVante Parker and Mack Hollins, as well as Bengals safety Shawn Williams, were ejected for their roles in the ensuing scuffle. Thomas, meanwhile, was not ejected.
After the tension simmered down, the down was replayed and the punt was downed. Perhaps fueled by the moment, Miami's D went on to force two more punts and snag a game-sealing interception while special teams added a field goal and the offense managed the clock en route to a 12-point victory.
It remains to be seen how the league will handle the situation but there's a good chance fines will follow. In the short-term, though, the Dolphins will likely bottle up their fired-up energy and carry it into Week 14.
"I think it speaks a lot to Flo''s character – how much it means to him that, you know, his player got hit, and it wasn't the first time. It was the second time," QB Tua Tagovailoa said. "You got to see, not just him, but other guys going in there trying to defend Jakeem and whatnot. I think it's a testament to how close we are as a team."