The Minnesota Vikings are the seventh different team that quarterback Joshua Dobbs has suited up for since entering the National Football League in 2017. And though I haven’t gone back and researched his tenure with all of those teams, I’d find it hard to believe that any of them got off to as horrendous a start as his Vikings’ tenure did on Sunday afternoon against the Atlanta Falcons.
The first series that Dobbs played as the Vikings’ quarterback saw him get taken down in the end zone by Calais Campbell. His second series saw him lose the ball when his hand hit his own offensive tackle for a fumble that was recovered by the Falcons and returned to the Minnesota 2-yard line. It was enough to bring about flashbacks to the Josh Freeman Game.
You remember the Josh Freeman Game, right? On a Monday night against the New York Giants in October of 2013, the Vikings inserted Freeman into the starting lineup after being with the team for about two weeks and proceeded to go 20-for-53 for 190 yards and an interception in what was a genuinely awful display of quarterbacking. Freeman never took another snap for the Vikings, serving as the third-string quarterback the rest of the way.
Dobbs hasn’t even been with the team for a full week and, per Kevin Seifert of ESPN, received zero snaps with the offense this week during practice.
Incredible stories from the Vikings' locker room today. Josh Dobbs didn't take a single rep with the offense in practice. No snaps from Garrett Bradbury. Had never thrown passes to anyone, and didn't know most of their full names. "That's for next week," he said.— Kevin Seifert (@SeifertESPN) November 5, 2023
The team was so completely focused on getting rookie Jaren Hall ready for this week’s game that, well, there just wasn’t any time to prepare Dobbs for the possibility that he might have to play today, even though the Vikings didn’t bring an emergency quarterback onto the 53-man roster prior to Sunday’s game.
But after those two disastrous possessions, a funny thing happened. Dobbs started making plays and leading drives. Sure, he had a turnover to start the second half that resulted in another Atlanta field goal, but other than that he played very well, ultimately leading an incredible game-winning drive that culminated in a 6-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Powell to give the Vikings an improbable 31-28 victory. That brought about shades of another weird moment in the Vikings’ quarterback history.
Back in 2010 after Brett Favre’s career was, ultimately, ended on the ice rink at (then) TCF Bank Stadium on a Monday night in December after the Metrodome roof collapsed. . .man, that sentence fragment alone is weird enough. . .the Vikings had to turn to another inexperienced quarterback that led them to victory.
Much like the Josh Freeman Game, the Joe Webb Game is one that everyone remembers. Webb, who was drafted in the sixth round in 2010, was drafted to be a quarterback according to Brad Childress. Despite that, the Vikings had him returning kicks and a few other things, but had to turn to him at quarterback after the Favre injury. Webb then led the Vikings into Philadelphia to take on the Eagles in a Monday Night Football game that wound up being played on a Tuesday night because of weather and because 2010 just wasn’t weird enough otherwise.
Now, Webb might not have played as central a role in the Vikings’ 24-14 win over the Eagles on that Tuesday night as Dobbs did on Sunday, but much like Webb, Dobbs was pressed into service under less-than-ideal circumstances and managed to do everything the Vikings needed him to do to get the team to victory. Webb certainly didn’t do anything to jeopardize his team’s chances, either.
Much like the Joe Webb Game. . .and the Josh Freeman Game, albeit for different reasons. . .I’ve got a funny feeling that Vikings fans are going to remember the Joshua Dobbs Game for quite a while. It’s definitely right up there among the most improbable victories this team has had in recent years, and now one of the peaks of this roller coaster of a season that the Vikings have had through the first nine games.