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Vikings vs. Saints Game Observations: Dobbs' Quick Start, Defense's Finish Key 5th Straight Win

MINNEAPOLIS — Joshua Dobbs' first start as a Minnesota Viking was fast.

It helped the Vikings zip out to a three-score lead by halftime, and Minnesota held on against New Orleans to claim a 27-19 victory on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Dobbs completed his first four passes for 52 yards on the opening drive, which ended with a field goal.

After a three-and-out, Dobbs led the Vikings on three consecutive touchdown drives that traversed 75, 82 and 76 yards.

Dobbs was accurate with the football, made sound decisions and showed great instincts and elusive abilities.

The Vikings utilized Dobbs' mobility with a read option keeper on third-and-1 on which he rushed for 11 yards, and he scrambled to find space for T.J. Hockenson to flash open. Dobbs fired a strike to Hockenson for a gain of 24 to the New Orleans 4-yard line on third-and-5.

Minnesota then cleverly lined up Dobbs under center before motioning him to the right and direct snapping to Ty Chandler, who rushed 2 yards untouched for his first career touchdown and a 10-3 lead with 10:14 remaining in the second quarter.

After a quick three-and-punt by the Saints, Dobbs led another touchdown drive by completing a 13-yard pass to Hockenson on third-and-6 that was followed with a 21-yard reception by the tight end.

An illegal contact penalty against the Saints gave the Vikings the ball at the 11, Dobbs nearly had a touchdown to Jordan Addison, but the ball came out at the end of the play. On third-and-6, Dobbs spun out of trouble, got to the left perimeter, faked that he was directing traffic for a receiver to by extra space and had the juice to reach the end zone.

The Vikings didn't even face a third down on their next possession, which started with a 13-yard run by Chandler and included five catches 58 yards by Hockenson, highlighted by a 28-yard touchdown. Dobbs added a 10-yard scramble along the way.

Here are four more observations from the game.

  1. Having a half

The Vikings built a 24-3 halftime lead behind an incredible offensive showing that combined with stinginess on defense and solidness on special teams.

It was arguably the most complete half of the entire 2023 season by Minnesota.

The Vikings totaled 17 first downs, compared to six for the Saints and went 4-for-6 on third downs while only allowing one third-down conversion on five New Orleans tries.

While moving the chains, the Vikings racked up 297 net yards against a Saints squad that entered the game allowing 304.3 per contest.

The show included 77 rushing yards and 220 through the air as Minnesota averaged 8.0 yards per play and possessed the ball for 17:55.

The Vikings defense limited the Saints to 110 net yards and just 57 through the air.

  1. Defense closes another close one

The Vikings (6-4) won their fifth consecutive game and again leaned on the defense, which held an opponent to under 20 points for the fourth time in the five-game win streak.

Minnesota completely dominated on that side of the ball in the first half.

After Derek Carr left the game midway through the third quarter with a concussion and right shoulder injuries following a hit by Danielle Hunter, Jameis Winston sparked a comeback.

Winston led two scoring drives that he capped with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Chris Olave and a 14-yarder to A.T. Perry (Alvin Kamara added 2-point conversion runs after each touchdown).

But the Vikings intercepted Winston twice in the fourth quarter to protect an 8-point lead for the final 11:40 of the game.

Rookie Mekhi Blackmon recorded his first career interception on a deep toss to give Minnestoa the ball back with 3:06 remaining, and Byron Murphy, Jr., nabbed a deep heave with 1:49 left.

Winston still got one more shot at the end zone with six seconds remaining but it fell harmlessly to the turf.

View game action photos from the Vikings vs. Saints Week 10 at U.S. Bank Stadium.

  1. Hock, Hock, Hock

Hockenson became the first NFL tight end since at least 1970 to record 10 catches, at least 125 receiving yards and a touchdown in a single half of a game.

He also joined Dallas Clark, Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten and Zach Ertz as the only tight ends with 10 catches in a half since 2000.

Hockenson finished with 11 receptions for 134 yards—the fourth game of his career with at least 100 receiving yards.

  1. Punt and cover

Ryan Wright had a solid game, averaging 43.0 yards per punt on six kicks. He had a long of 50, placed three inside the 20 and worked with the coverage team to force four fair catches.

Dynamic return threat Rashid Shaheed was limited to 22 yards on two punt returns.