The Vikings came out strong on Sunday against the Saints, scoring on four of their first five drives in the first half- three of them touchdowns. For the second straight week, quarterback Josh Dobbs provided the play-making magic, aided primarily by a tough, grinding performance by an injured TJ Hockenson. The Vikings led at halftime 24-3.
But a more conservative stance, particularly offensively, in the second half allowed the Saints to come back. The Vikings punted five times in the second half, with two field goal attempts- one of them made- and no touchdowns.
The Saints were able to come back with a couple of nice, contested catches for touchdowns- both by Jameis Winston who replaced Derek Carr in the second half. Carr was knocked out of the game on a clean high-low hit that caused him to come crashing to the turf. He was later said to have suffered both a shoulder injury and a concussion.
But as Winston has been infamous for his entire career, he followed up the touchdown passes with a couple of interceptions, the second of which effectively ended the game. The Saints got the ball back with six seconds left for a hail mary attempt, which was unsuccessful- giving the Vikings a 27-19 win.
Josh Dobbs Continues to Shine, Hockenson Continues to Grind
The story of the game, however, continued to be the performance of Josh Dobbs, who was a key factor in the Vikings coming away with three touchdowns in the first half. The first Vikings’ touchdown actually came on a direct snap to Ty Chandler, after a Dobbs scramble and throw to Hockenson to get inside the +10 yard line, which confused the Saints’ defense and led to an easy score for Chandler. The second Vikings’ touchdown came on an amazing play by Josh Dobbs, and the third on a beautifully thrown ball to TJ Hockenson near the end of the half.
Dobbs ended the game going 23/34 in the air for 268 yards and a touchdown for a 101.3 passer rating. He added 44 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground as well, combining overall for an 88.3 QBR rating, which was second highest among all quarterbacks this weekend including all Sunday games.
Hockenson meanwhile had 11 receptions on 15 targets for 134 yards and a touchdown. He is now second in the league in receiving yards among tight ends with 547.
Scramble by Dobbs on 3rd & 5, connection with Hockenson, Risner providing a late ‘surge’
Dobbs with amazing scramble and run for a touchdown
Dobbs to Hockenson TD near end of half
Ty Chandler Direct Snap TD
Dobbs to Hockenson for big gain into the red zone, Mattison with a key block
Defense with another Decent Showing
The Vikings defense came away with another decent showing. They weren’t dominant by any means, but made enough plays, especially when needed late, to secure the victory. Danielle Hunter had a sack to extend his league leading total, with Jonathon Bullard and DJ Wonnum adding sacks as well. Mekhi Blackmon had a good showing that included a late interception, and Byron Murphy Jr. had an interception to cut short the Saints’ penultimate drive on an errant throw by Jameis Winston.
Overall, the defense allowed just 4.6 yards per play and allowed just four third down conversions on 14 attempts, forcing six punts to keep the Vikings with the lead most of the game.
Vikings Continue to Roll
Overall, the Vikings played good complementary football with a variety of players making plays when needed to produce an important team win- their fifth in a row. After the late games on Sunday, the Vikings now have an 83% chance of making the playoffs according to the New York Times playoff simulator. If the Vikings can win their next three games against very beatable opponents- the Broncos, Bears, and Raiders- they would improve their playoff probability to 98%. The Vikings would most likely make the playoffs as a wildcard team. The only way they’d win the NFC North division title would be if they could sweep the Lions late in the season.
But at some point in the not too distant future, they could get Justin Jefferson back and later Marcus Davenport as well, which would only add to their postseason chances and ability to go deeper into the playoffs.
Will the Vikings win their next three games against the Broncos, Bears, and Raiders?
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