Brian Flores defends Dolphins players, stresses need for better poise after brawl erupts in win over Bengals

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 Michael Thomas on a second consecutive punt return late in the game, Dolphins coach Brian Flores, in the midst of a sideline-clearing brawl, was one of the first people out on the field protesting Thomas’ hit.

Never one to mince words, Flores explained his mindset and actions after the game.

“I have to do a better job, I have to, to not hurt the team. My emotions got the best of me there,” Flores said, according to Safid Deen of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “You see somebody you care about get hit like that twice, but I have to do a better job and keep my poise better. We have to do a better job of keeping 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 being restrained as he gave officials an earful from behind his mask.

“The people in this organization are very important to me. I’m going to protect everybody,” Flores explained, per Josh Tolentino of The Athletic.

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 FG 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.

“It speaks a lot to Flo’s character. [Jakeem Grant] got hit and it wasn’t the first time, it was the second time,” QB Tua Tagovailoa said, via The Athletic. “He stands up for us as a team. It wasn’t just him. It’s a testament to how close we are as a team.”

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