Five days, brainpower and a lot of heart is all Joshua Dobbs needed.
Oh, and his legs.
Dobbs showed fortitude, impressive transference and quick-thinking at Atlanta Sunday afternoon, evading pressure and scrambling for a first down four different times to keep drives alive. He racked up 66 total yards on the ground en route to Minnesota’s 31-28 win.
Dobbs' 66 yards on the ground were the third-most by a Vikings QB since 2010 and the most since Joe Webb recorded 109 yards on the ground in December 2011.
And he did it all having been a Viking for less than a week.
With Kirk Cousins on Injured Reserve due to a torn Achilles suffered last week at Green Bay, the Vikings traded Tuesday to acquire Dobbs from Arizona. They started rookie Jaren Hall, but he left Sunday's contest during the Vikings second offensive series after suffering a concussion.
Next man up.
"I've been in similar situations. First it was, 'Jaren, get up. I hope he's OK.' But then it was, 'Hey, if you're playing, you've gotta go out there and play,' " Dobbs said of his thoughts when Hall went down. "The team still expects you to go out and win — and play good football.
"In this league, man, there's never an excuse for your circumstance," he added. "They just want to see you succeed given the circumstance you're given."
Dobbs did just that.
Broadcast cameras briefly captured Dobbs, who started last week's game for the Cardinals against Baltimore, warming up on the sidelines during Atlanta's possession, which ended in a punt.
Then it was up to Dobbs, with Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell in his ear, to lead the offense.
"It's like if you were taking [Advanced Placement] Spanish all year, and you showed up and someone told you Wednesday … you have an AP French exam on Sunday," Dobbs laughed. "And you've gotta go execute. Someone's gonna talk to you in Spanish and translate it to the French. That's kind of like what was going on out there.
"There was a lot of communication, but I'm able to process a lot of information and be able to react on the fly," said Dobbs, who majored in aerospace engineering at Tennessee.
He might not know all his teammates' names yet – "That's for this [next] week," he quipped – but the 28-year-old confidently executed play calls from O'Connell and wasn't afraid to ad-lib when needed.
Dobbs' final scramble occurred at a critical point in the game, when the Vikings trailed by 4 and faced fourth down with just 52 seconds remaining.
After somehow just squeaking out of a sack by outside linebacker Bud Dupree, Dobbs then evaded Lorenzo Carter, kept sprinting just past the grasp of A.J. Terrell (who hit the turf trying to stop the QB) and finally was taken down at the Atlanta 12 after a 22-yard gain.
"They popped a 2-man on us. They had great coverage on the back end," Dobbs said. "Obviously we saw it all day – I was able to use my feet as a weapon – so I really, for a second, thought I was going to score once I got the first down, but then I thought it was probably smart to step out of bounds and save a timeout and everything.
"That was a gotta-have-it situation," he added. "Whatever it takes to get the first down – whether it's throwing it short and a guy laying out, whether it's a contested catch down the field or using your feet to make something happen. That's what you have to do in those situations to keep the chains moving and give the team a chance to win."
Dobbs' incredible run and wherewithal to get out of bounds and stop the clock set up Minnesota inside the red zone with 39 seconds to work with.
After an incomplete pass on first down, he connected with T.J. Hockenson for 6 yards and then from the 6 fired it off to Brandon Powell for the game-winning touchdown.
"There was a level of quarterback play there with his eyes, and understanding the intent of a pretty high-level football play there, to go out and execute it in that moment," O'Connell said. "Just awesome."
Dobbs acknowledged after the game the play had been one installed during the week – but one he'd only watched from the sideline as Hall executed it.
"That was my first time repping the play, but it was in the game plan," Dobbs said with a chuckle. "The coaches asked me my comfort level with everything in the playbook and how I felt … if something were to happen, and I said, 'Anything on this call sheet that we installed this week, I've got it. I can run it; I've got it.'
" 'You start pulling stuff from OTA 1 and 2, I might be a little handcuffed out there, but if you put it on the call sheet [this week], I've got it,' " he added.
Being that Dobbs had taken very few live reps in practice, he also had never taken a snap from center Garretty Bradbury and the rest of the first-team offensive line prior to Sunday's game.
"We huddled up on the sideline real quick and were like, 'All right, let's go through our five-main cadences,' " right tackle Brian O'Neill said. "Honestly, being on the road, though, probably helped with the silent count in shotgun. We were gonna do that no matter who was in there, on passing downs, shotgun stuff. That helped, for sure. And we were like, 'All right, that's his cadence. Let's roll.'
"The other thing is, every quarterback usually stands next to the left tackle in the huddle, and then Josh was standing next to both [on different plays] and I was like, 'I've never been next to the quarterback in the huddle. I'm always looking at him from across the way,' " O'Neill said.
Another game-changing run by Dobbs resulted in a rushing touchdown in the third quarter. He and the offense capitalized on a turnover by the defense a few minutes earlier, and Dobbs scrambled 18 yards to the paint.
O'Connell was asked what he learned Sunday about his new quarterback.
"That he can change the game athletically, with his legs," O'Connell said. "I gave him plenty of bad plays today, and he made it right. That's something that, quite honestly, we knew bringing him here that was one of the real traits – in addition to his leadership qualities, his smarts, his toughness."
It seemed fitting that Dobbs' performance occurred just down the road from Hall of Fame Vikings QB Fran Tarkenton, who lives and works in the Atlanta metro.
"Scramblin' Fran" addressed the Vikings at their hotel Saturday night, emphasizing the "next man up" mantra and the importance of rallying around whichever player steps in.
Tarkenton brought with him the game ball he received from the Vikings first-ever regular-season game in 1961. That day, Tarkenton came off the bench to lead Minnesota to a come-from-behind victory, throwing four touchdown passes and running for another as the Vikings defeated the Bears 37–13.
Six decades later, the Hall of Famer's message couldn't have seemed more applicable as Dobbs rushed for one touchdown and threw for two more in his Vikings debut.
In addition to his final pass to Powell, he also completed a 2-yard touchdown pass to Alexander Mattison just before halftime.
Dobbs finished his outing 20-of-30 passing for 158 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. His passer rating was 101.8.
When all was said and done, he helped Minnesota win its fourth straight game and improve to 5-4 on the season.
Dobbs was able to win his first game in Purple just 30 minutes (he noted that depends on Atlanta traffic) from his hometown of Alpharetta and with family members – including his parents – in the stands.
"Being back home, being on this field – I grew up watching the Falcons play ball in the Mike Vick era and the Matt Ryan era," Dobbs said. "So to be here on this field, man, and then have a game like that means a lot to me.
"I'll enjoy it, but it's on to the next one once Tuesday hits, and we're right back to work," he added.