For the second year in a row, an injury in Week 8 has prompted the Vikings to acquire a player before the trade deadline, and just like T.J. Hockenson did in 2022 after Irv Smith, Jr., went down, Joshua Dobbs played a key role in Minnesota's 2023 Week 9 victory.
Dobbs filled in for rookie Jaren Hall at quarterback, who was making his first start a week after Kirk Cousins suffered a season-ending Achilles injury. The Vikings turned to Hall with veteran backup Nick Mullens on Injured Reserve.
Hockenson only had a few days to learn a brand new offense as the Vikings prepared for a road tilt the following week in Washington. It didn't faze the tight end at all, as he hauled in nine receptions for 70 yards in a 20-17 victory.
Similar to his new teammate Hockenson's situation a year ago, Dobbs only had a handful of days to absorb a new offense. Unlike Hockenson, though, Dobbs didn't get any reps with the starting offense – including center Garrett Bradbury – as Head Coach Kevin O'Connell focused on prepping Hall for his first start in Atlanta.
But when Hall left in the first quarter with a concussion and was ruled out, Dobbs was the only other active quarterback available.
Despite the Vikings offensive line having to learn Dobbs' cadence on the sideline minutes before his first series – or O'Connell essentially translating play calls to him mid-huddle – Dobbs overcame a pair of fumbles and a sack in the end zone for a Falcons safety to lead Minnesota to an exhilarating 31-28 comeback victory.
Dobbs finished the afternoon 20-of-30 passing for 158 yards and two touchdowns. In the ground game, he was even better, as he led the Vikings in rushing with 66 yards on seven carries — including several scrambles for a first down — and added a score.
If the circumstances of this two-week stretch in back-to-back years isn't enough of a coincidence, here's another similarity: The Week 9 victory for the Vikings against the Commanders in 2022 was their sixth straight. Sunday's win against the Falcons gave Minnesota (5-4) its fourth consecutive victory and fifth in six games.
Minnesota's win propelled the team up this week's Power Rankings, with the highest jump being 11 spots. Here's a look at where the Vikings rank heading into Week 10:
No. 17 (up 2 spots): Eric Edholm, NFL.com
Between Kevin O'Connell's coaching and Joshua Dobbs' short-week relief work, Sunday's win ranks pretty highly on the sweetness scale. Considering everyone the Vikings didn't have going in, plus everyone they lost during the game, this was a coaching masterpiece, with Dobbs providing late heroics after some early setbacks. Thirty-one points and a road victory? Incredible stuff. The defense came up with big plays, especially in the third quarter. With a 5-4 mark and Justin Jefferson's return looming, it's not outrageous to think about the playoffs. The Vikings have winnable games remaining against the Broncos, Bears, Raiders and Packers. But this Sunday's game against the Saints could end up being a massive one for both teams' playoff hopes. For this Kirk Cousins-less Minnesota outfit, it's wild that we're even saying that.
No. 12 (up 11 spots): Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
Josh Dobbs to the rescue. Dobbs came off the bench in his first game with the team and led it to a comeback victory. At 5-4, the Vikings are alive in the playoff race.
No. 17 (up 7 spots): Josh Kendall, The Athletic
On Sunday, Josh Dobbs was 20-for-30 for 158 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner with 22 seconds remaining. Why is that so impressive? It was his first day taking a snap in Minnesota's offense. Dobbs was acquired via trade Tuesday but did not take a snap in practice because the Vikings were starting rookie Jaren Hall. However, Hall got injured on the second series of the game, leading to Dobbs' heroics.
No. 18 (up 3 spots): NFL Staff, Bleacher Report
With Kirk Cousins on the shelf with a torn Achilles, the Minnesota Vikings turned to rookie Jaren Hall under center – for all of six pass attempts. Then, after Hall was concussed, the Vikes were forced to turn to Joshua Dobbs, who had been with the team all of five days after being acquired at the trade deadline.
Despite having just arrived, Dobbs threw for two touchdown passes and ran for a third, leading the Vikings to a comeback win that was the team's fourth straight win and fifth victory in six games.
Even Falcons quarterback Taylor Heinicke had to admit to reporters what Dobbs accomplished was impressive.
"The fact that he got traded this week and comes in and plays like that? He's a good player, man," Heinicke said. "Playing on a short week, learning a new playbook and scoring 31 points, kudos to him."
"Dobbs has been with the Vikings for less than a week, and he's already shown why he's the right guy to fill in for Cousins," [Bleacher Report NFL analyst Maurice] Moton said. "After Hall suffered a concussion in the first quarter, Dobbs took over and helped lead the Vikings to a win over the Falcons. With basic knowledge of the playbook, he threw for 158 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 66 yards and a score. As Dobbs becomes more familiar with Head Coach and offensive play-caller Kevin O'Connell's system, he should be able to rack up more yards through the air. With T.J. Hockenson, Jordan Addison and the possible return of Justin Jefferson, Dobbs may be more than a game manager who guides Minnesota back to the playoffs."
No. 14 (up 1 spot): Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News
How about Josh Dobbs? [The Vikings] didn't start him, but he sure did finish off the Falcons to keep their momentum going without Kirk Cousins. They're right back in the thick of the NFC Wild Card race and still have two left with the Lions in the final three games.
No. 16 (up 7 spots): Nate Davis, USA Today Sports
"It's like if you were taking AP Spanish all year, and you showed up and someone told you Wednesday … you have an AP French exam on Sunday," new QB Josh Dobbs said of learning Minnesota's offense on the fly Sunday. Good thing he'll face the fleur-de-lis from New Orleans on Sunday.
No. 18 (up 6 spots): Frank Schwab, Yahoo! Sports
Sunday's win said a lot about Joshua Dobbs, his professionalism and competitiveness. It probably said as much, if not more, about Head Coach Kevin O'Connell. We see coaches with good quarterbacks come into games with their teams looking unprepared. O'Connell figured out a way to have Dobbs, who had just been benched by a horrible Cardinals team and traded, run a fully functional offense and win on the road. O'Connell has had some good moments but Vikings fans should go forward after Sunday with more confidence than ever in their coach.