There were times last season when Russell Wilson looked like a lost cause.
He wasn’t even 35 years old, but it looked like his time as a top quarterback might be over. In some games, one could wonder if Wilson was even a starting quarterback in the NFL anymore. The Denver Broncos’ trade for Wilson and the contract extension they gave him seemed like a disaster.
No one is criticizing Wilson now. He may not have returned to the form he had when he was selected to the Pro Bowl almost every season with the Seattle Seahawks, but he is having a remarkable resurgence with Sean Payton coaching him. Wilson led a decisive drive against the Minnesota Vikings and hit Courtland Sutton for a go-ahead 15-yard touchdown pass with just over a minute left. The Broncos pulled away after that and won 21-20, their fourth straight victory. They have beaten quality teams like the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills and Vikings in that streak. They are back to .500 at 5-5 and back in the playoff race.
And Wilson is back. He was having a good season before Sunday night, especially compared to many of the quarterbacks around the league who are struggling. Then Sunday night’s two-minute drive was exactly what the Broncos thought they would get with Wilson.
The Vikings led for most of the game.
Joshua Dobbs was the main reason for the Vikings’ lead through three quarters.
In the second quarter he had a fantastic play, avoiding a sack near the sideline, keeping his feet and finding Josh Oliver for a 3-yard touchdown.
Dobbs had another big third down play in the third quarter. On third-and-8, with nothing available to him as a passer, Dobbs ducked and ran. He went 10 yards for a score and the Vikings led 17-9. That also got Dobbs closer to making some history.
Since 1930, only two players have led multiple teams in rushing touchdowns in the same season:
• Joshua Dobbs with the Cardinals and Vikings in 2023 (through Week 11)
– NFL Research (@NFLResearch) November 20, 2023
It was a close game in which the defenses played well. A couple of big, timely plays by Dobbs made the difference throughout the three quarters. Dobbs had already been traded by the Cleveland Browns and Arizona Cardinals in the past three months, but the Vikings appear to have found a good replacement for Kirk Cousins, who is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon. That’s a blow, considering how many teams in the NFL are struggling at the quarterback position this season.
But in the end, Dobbs couldn’t get past Wilson.
Broncos take the victory
Dobbs made a big mistake in the fourth quarter. He was hit while attempting to throw, Ja’Quan McMillian intercepted the pass and returned it to the Vikings’ 9-yard line. The Broncos were trailing 17-12 and had a great opportunity to take the lead. But the Vikings defense held again. He was helped by a rare offensive facemask penalty, assessed on receiver Marvin Mims Jr. as he attempted to gain additional yards. The Broncos scored another field goal and the Vikings still led by two.
Minnesota’s special teams made a big play after that. The Vikings called a fake punt at exactly the right time and Ty Chandler ran for 31 yards. The Vikings kept that momentum alive with a fourth-down quarterback sneak that continued to eat time off the clock. The drive lasted 7:20 and resulted in a field goal with 3:17 remaining.
That was enough time for Wilson, who has been excellent in the fourth quarter throughout his career. The Broncos drove deep into Vikings territory with the game on the line. Wilson hit a great fourth down pass to Sutton and a great third down pass to Samaje Perine. With 1:03 left, Wilson hit Sutton in the end zone for a big leaping touchdown. The Broncos led 21-20. A throw to Javonte Williams on the two-point conversion was stopped and the Vikings had a chance to win with a field goal.
Dobbs had time to respond. He nearly hit the sticks on a third-down run, but got the first down on a quarterback sneak. After that, the Broncos’ pass rush took over. They forced a turnover and Denver earned another victory.
Wilson has had his share of criticism. They are much calmer after the last few games.