The Vikings improved to 6-4 by claiming their fifth consecutive victory on Sunday, recording a win streak of at least five games for the second time in as many seasons under Head Coach Kevin O'Connell (seven in 2022).
It is the first time Minnesota has won at least five consecutive games in back-to-back seasons since 2016-17.
Minnesota zoomed out to a three-touchdown lead, scoring 24 in the first half Sunday against New Orleans, and withstood a late surge by the Saints for a 27-19 victory.
Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell recapped the win and informed media members that linebacker Jordan Hicks was hospitalized after the game. Hicks underwent a procedure because of swelling in his leg.
Before Minnesota's Week 11 road game at Denver, here's a deeper look at Week 10.
Next Gen Stats
Truly remarkable scramble
Joshua Dobbs won his first start as a Viking by doing damage on the ground and through the air.
His 7-yard touchdown run on a third-and-6 in the second quarter actually resulted from Dobbs traveling 45.2 yards, according to Next Gen Stats.
NGS pointed out that Dobbs has gained 130 rushing yards over expectations on scramble runs (includes games with Cardinals) in 2023. Patrick Mahomes ranks second among quarterbacks this season with 58 yards above expectations on scrambles.
Dobbs also had the 14th fastest speed by a ball carrier in Week 10, reaching 20.13 mph during a 4-yard rush.
According to NGS, Dobbs has 302 rushing yards on scrambles this season, the most in the NFL by a QB.
Time to throw
Dobbs finished 23-for-34 with 268 yards and a passer rating of 101.1.
Protection was there for Dobbs consistently. When holding the ball in the pocket for longer than 2.5 seconds, Dobbs completed 20 of 30 passes for 251 yards and the score.
Heavy dose of Hock
T.J. Hockenson caught 11 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown on 15 targets. According to NGS, Hockenson ran 29 routes, for a target rate of 51.7 percent.
Although he was battling a ribs injury suffered last week, he accounted for 53.03 percent of Minnesota's team air yards — by far the most by a tight end in Week 10. New England's Hunter Henry was next at 31.75 percent.
Olave's spectacular catch
New Orleans climbed back into the game via a spectacular catch by Chris Olave, who high-pointed a Jameis Winston pass to beat really good coverage by cornerback Byron Murphy, Jr.
According to NGS, the 10.5 percent completion probability was the lowest for any touchdown pass in 2023.
Winston's second touchdown pass of the game also was among the least probable of Week 10. The 15-yard pass to A.T. Perry had a completion probability of 26.5 percent, the sixth lowest of the week.
Minnesota's five starting offensive linemen — LT Christian Darrisaw, LG Dalton Risner, C Garrett Bradbury, RG Ed Ingram and RT Brian O'Neill — and Dobbs played all 73 offensive snaps.
Jordan Addison (73), Jalen Nailor (67) and Brandon Powell (49) led Vikings receivers on offense, followed by Hockenson (46). Tight ends Josh Oliver (32) and Johnny Mundt (16) helped take some of the workload off Hockenson.
Running back Alexander Mattison (33) and Ty Chandler (32) handled most of the duties at running back. Mattison suffered a concussion and is in the protocol.
Four defensive players — Murphy and safeties Harrison Smith, Camryn Bynum and Josh Metellus — played all 67 defensive snaps.
Outside linebackers D.J. Wonnum (62) and Danielle Hunter (61) each played at least 91 percent of Minnesota's defensive snaps.
Ivan Pace, Jr., took on an increased workload in relief of Hicks. Pace played 56 defensive snaps; Hicks was in for 28.
Harrison Phillips (55) led Vikings defensive linemen.
Akayleb Evans (39) dealt with a lower leg strain, but rookie Mekhi Blackmon showed he was ready to help. Blackmon played 36 defensive snaps and recorded his first career interception.
From the Inbox
Greetings from the metro Detroit Area!
I have been proudly carrying the Vikings banner since moving here from Minnesota almost 20 years ago. During that time, the Lions have been upstarts here and there, but it's always just been a cute story while the rest of the division battled for the crown. They now appear a bit more formidable, and I feel the end of the season meetings, twice in three weeks, will now be to determine who takes the North.
I shared the immediate dread when Kirk [Cousins] went down, and the overreaction that the season could be mailed in. The slightest glimmer remained until Jaren [Hall] went down – then I was CERTAIN it was over. Dobbs has been a pleasant surprise and has revived my zeal and optimism for the team. It has been a long time since the Vikings had a mobile threat under center, and it's fun to watch.
Having stated that, what a tail of two halves! I'm hoping the team continues to gel around Josh, but they can't afford to take our foot off the gas simply based on the scoreboard. The Saints never should have even sniffed a chance at staying in that game. I knew they would see a drop off with Dalvin Cook's departure, but what they are trotting out there for a rushing attack with Mattison is abysmal. If the Vikings don't figure something out to at least make our rushing attack a slight consideration for opposing defensive coordinators, even if [Justin] Jefferson comes back better than ever, they will be lining up for another first-round departure from the playoffs. I hope the coaching staff can produce a clever solution because what they're doing isn't working.
— Jerry V. Schroeder in Van Buren Township, Michigan
Thanks for carrying the banner in Michigan. I'd imagine there's a little more boisterousness from Lions fans this season, and they've played well to open 2023. Those two showdowns could provide the drama the NFL's schedule makers (Note: They're not script writers, but they do seem to appreciate good storylines.) planned for with that unique placement of those two games.
Many preseason prognosticators believed the Vikings would not be able to replicate the success (some say "luck") of 2022 or avoid significant injuries the way the team did last season. Sure enough, the injuries have stacked up, but Minnesota has withstood them through a team-first approach, impressive leadership by coaches and players, and every player finding a little bit more to make a difference each week.
Before the season started, I thought the team was capable of double-digit wins, but the mountain of turnovers out of the gate shrunk that probability. Those errors — sometimes forced, sometimes unforced — have been reduced recently and positioned Minnesota to still accomplish double-digit victories.
The Vikings finished with 125 yards on the ground, but those numbers were inflated by 44 on eight rushes by Dobbs.
Chandler rushed 15 times for 45 yards, and Mattison added eight carries for 27 yards before suffering the concussion.
Jefferson's return may prompt teams to not load the box quite as much.
While the group still isn't popping runs of 15-plus very often, it can continue trying to eliminate negative runs.
Dobbs' mobility in all this is another X-factor, so we'll continue to see how that shapes things.
It's great seeing the defense come together, but what is the situation with Lewis Cine? I know he had a bad leg injury last year, but it seems he's been inactive for most if not all games this year. Is he having complications with his leg, or is he just not fitting in with Brian Flores' defense?
— Will Kingdon
The Vikings assembled great talent at the safety position. It's why they kept six on the 53-man roster.
Smith, Bynum and Metellus have been an incredible trio, and then we've seen Theo Jackson and Jay Ward have some opportunities on defense but also play core roles on special teams.
I think Lewis is continuing to develop, and that's something that the coaching staff takes ultimate pride in, even if a player lands a little farther down the depth chart. As this season has shown, opportunity for one player is only a play away.
Lewis has been participating in practices, often helping the first-team offense prepare for the next opponent's defense, so he's contributing in a way that's not public facing but has still been part of the team's goals.
It is obvious to me that we have a QB that can take US to the next level. Why not put everything into exploiting the opportunity?
Note: The email included two cloud emojis in reference to Dobbs' speed.
Some quarterbacks who have had success as runners in college find that doesn't translate as well to the NFL, but Dobbs has shown strength in breaking tackles and sort of an optimization of his stride that creates space from defenders.
It's interesting to see his mobility injected into a sound offensive system that was humming with Cousins under center, and it's probably good for Dobbs to have been able to utilize that as he continues to grow within this system.
The rapport with Hockenson on Sunday was elite, particularly when Dobbs evaded pressure and connected with the tight end in open space for a gain of 24.
Dobbs keeps balling, VIKINGS keep winning. We get back our walking wounded, this team will be a very hard out. Win the next two, this fan will be in Vegas!
— Rick in Stillwater, Oklahoma
Absolutely happy with the final outcome of the Vikings win over the Saints. I just wish the offense would have not been so vanilla in the last four minutes of the game. There were no real attempts to get a first down to close out the game.
O'Connell was asked about his own personal assessments after every game and provided a lengthy response. The following is an excerpt:
"Each game has its own individual story – and how you handle the situations of the game are always learning processes for me. I think if, as a head coach, if I ever stop doing that that's a disservice to everybody around here," O'Connell said. "I think there's coaches that have coached a lot of years in this league, some of the best coaches in our league, that would tell you this game can provide learning lessons every single Sunday, and that's the way I look at it.
"Backup quarterback goes in the game on the other side, you've got a significant lead, do you get too conservative to try to not have negatives and turnovers and things that could contribute to them getting back in the game easier," he continued. "We had a lot of respect for that team both defensively, I think they're one of the best defenses in the NFL, then offensively, with the skill players they had. We were down some players defensively just trying to pick that balance and you'd love to get that second Ty Chandler touchdown or maybe convert a few more third downs, get in that four-minute [offense] and maybe see if we can possibly do more than just make them use timeouts. Earn that first down and then you possibly look at ending the game on that first set of downs we got. There's a lot of things that go into it.
"I think it's sometimes easy to just say, 'Hey man, they had 24 points and almost 300 yards in the first half, why don't they have 48 points and 600 yards.' That's just not the way it really works when you're trying to manage it, but by all means there are things yesterday that I look back on and we'll evaluate and say I could have done this this and this and then some better and different," he added.
Another strong effort by the Purple, resulting in a key victory, thus enhancing the team's chances of making the playoffs, after the inauspicious first month of the season. Kudos to Vikings management, coaching staff and players for demonstrating the resolve to overcome a lot of adversity and turn the season around over the past seven weeks.
There's no questioning the importance of the astonishing play of Josh Dobbs in engineering the Vikings victories in the past two games. His maturity, poise, athleticism and game mastery are readily apparent and a genuine pleasure to watch. However, one has to acknowledge the Vikings excellent offensive line play which has given the team's playmakers plenty of good opportunities to move the ball and score. The Vikings offensive line play now gives the team a respectable chance against any other team in the NFL.
The best teams in the NFL win games on offense in the fourth quarter, as the Vikings did in Atlanta last week. Against the Saints, however, the Vikings did very little on offense over the final 25 minutes of the game, having only 91 yards of total offense in the second half. This allowed the Saints to get back in the game (after trailing by 24 points in the third quarter) and created some unexpected drama in the game's final minutes. The coaching staff needs to trust the Vikings offense to maintain ball possession and extend leads (even if leading by 24 points) to beat the elite teams in the NFL. Overly conservative play often quickly leads to lost leads and lost games. Champions learn to put teams away once they build solid leads.
The Vikings have some good opportunities in the next couple of weeks leading into their bye week. As Josh Dobbs gains further familiarity with the offense and Justin Jefferson and others return to the lineup, Viking fans can look forward to the team seizing these opportunities and making an exciting run in the season's final month.
— Brian Mason in Waterford, New York
It seems like the offensive line continues to get better and better, including players who have drawn criticisms in the past year or more. That group is really blending nicely with the addition of Dalton Risner. He's an intense player.
Garrett Bradbury's knowledge of the offense has to be a help to a quarterback about to begin his third week with the team.
Even though the score tightened — the Chandler TD that was negated would have been a nice cherry on top — the Vikings had confidence the defense would be able to protect the lead enough to move on to the following week.