MINNEAPOLIS — For the briefest of moments last week, Joshua Dobbs took time to pinch himself. The fervor from his stunning debut with the Vikings had just started to dissipate when he stepped onto an elevator in the team hotel, where dozens of the franchise’s former players had gathered for a weekend reunion.
A few alumni also stepped onto the elevator. As he later recounted, Dobbs was shocked when they recognized him, heaped praise on his impact on the team and talked excitedly about the remainder of the season.
“Just feeling that energy,” he said, “and feeling that recognition from guys that have played a lot more snaps than I have and had illustrious careers, and just to see that excitement, meant a lot to me. It was a cool moment just to take it all in.”
Dobbs picked up Sunday right where he left off last week in Atlanta, accounting for 312 offensive yards and two touchdowns in the Vikings’ 27-19 victory over the Saints. In so doing, Dobbs became the first player in NFL history to amass 400 passing yards, 100 rushing yards and no interceptions in his first two games with a team, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Dobbs is the third quarterback in as many weeks to start for the Vikings, following Kirk Cousins’ season-ending Achilles tear in Week 8 and Jaren Hall’s concussion in Week 9. The Vikings acquired Dobbs from the Cardinals on Oct. 31 to serve as an emergency backup for Hall, and Dobbs went on to account for 224 offensive yards and three touchdowns against the Falcons despite not taking a single practice rep with the team.
Heading into Sunday’s game, Dobbs had the relative luxury of an entire week to learn the Vikings’ offense and their game plan for the Saints, which called for more passing than might have been expected. He guided the Vikings to a 24-3 halftime lead and finished with 23 completions in 34 attempts for 268 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown strike to tight end T.J. Hockenson just before halftime. He also rushed for 44 yards on eight carries, converting two third downs and scoring on a 7-yard run in which he spun out of the pocket and scrambled after the Saints covered all four of his reads on the play.
“Josh in two starts has shown us what mobility, in addition to what we do offensively, can do for us in this tough time where we’re trying to overcome the loss of Kirk,” coach Kevin O’Connell said.
O’Connell added: “Last week, I can’t emphasize enough what the circumstances were for him in our offense, but what I think was really special this week, even coming off of that performance, was his work, how he prepared. He was essentially living at the facility and going through his normal process while also allowing us to show him how we do things, how we try to enhance his ability to play fast while also giving him really good plays that he can be responsible for getting to one versus the other on the line.
“I thought it was a pretty outstanding day from Josh and the best thing about it is we’re all still getting to know each other and getting a comfort level where we can continue to apply layers to this thing to try to be as successful as we can be on offense.”
Indeed, Dobbs said he ate every meal at the facility last week to be certain he spent enough time learning the game plan, joking that “I’m not paid by the hour, so I have nowhere else to be.”
Turning serious, however, Dobbs said he was driven to make sure that the memorable performance in Atlanta was not lost to history.
“Whatever happened,” he said, “you have to put that aside and go on to the next one. You show up on Sunday, you don’t play well? No one cares what you did last week in Atlanta. They care about what you did this week in Minnesota.”