After a modest 19-13 victory over the Bears that stopped the bleeding after a 1-4 start to the season, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins gave at least partial credit to the popular but nonetheless often maligned post-grunge band Creed.
The team had cranked up the generation-ago hit "Higher" before the game at the direction of center Garrett Bradbury. Whether it was the crooning of Scott Stapp or the dysfunction of the Bears that truly made the difference, what mattered is the Vikings believed it was Creed and have kept believing.
As Kevin Costner's Crash Davis said: "Never (mess) with a winning streak."
It wasn't a streak at that point, but it became one. The Vikings have four consecutive victories — all of them without star receiver Justin Jefferson, one of them without Cousins and each of them, in some way, incorporating Creed.
Quarterback Joshua Dobbs, acquired in the middle of last week, authored the most improbable of the bunch: Taking over for the injured Jaren Hall, who was starting in place of the injured Cousins, and rallying the Vikings to a 31-28 win at Atlanta with his arm and legs.
Dobbs might have just arrived, but he wasn't born yesterday. In a TikTok video he posted after the game, Dobbs used "Higher" as his soundtrack. And in captioning the post, he referenced another Creed song: "THANK YOU SKOL NATION FOR WELCOMING ME WITH ARMS WIDE OPEN."
All of this has the making of a feel-good story. Dobbs said this week that he has been talking plenty with Cousins, who has been at the Vikings facility recovering from his torn Achilles.
They might see a bit of themselves in each other: both of them were fourth-round picks (Cousins in 2012, Dobbs in 2017), the sort of draft position suggestive of life as a career backup at best — something I talked about on Friday's Daily Delivery podcast.
Cousins ascended to full-time starter status in 2015, his fourth year in Washington, and didn't miss a game due to injury until last week.
Dobbs, who threw for more than 7,000 yards and ran for 2,000 more in college at Tennessee, bounced around the NFL and didn't get his first start until late 2022, his sixth season, when the Titans were in a pinch. He kept bouncing from there — the contingency plan, but never the main plan — with eight starts in Arizona after a late-preseason trade and then a midyear deal to the desperate Vikings.
Is Dobbs, the reigning NFC Offensive Player of the Week, a talented quarterback with a higher ceiling than the league has previously allowed him to showcase? Is this opportunity with the Vikings his first real chance to be something more than a fallback plan, even if that's how it started here?
Can Dobbs and the Vikings, if you'll pardon me, take each other higher in 2023?
It all reminds me (and plenty of others) of Case Keenum. Six years ago, as Keenum was starting to defy odds and play well during a Vikings season that ultimately ended in the NFC title game, I wrote a post with the simple headline, "Is Vikings quarterback Case Keenum good?"
In it, I explored Keenum's career arc, the likely assumptions made about him along the way, and how those assumptions probably stopped some people from asking whether Keenum was actually good instead of just good enough for right now.
Keenum's one season in Minnesota ended up being an outlier — a career year where he played like a top-10 quarterback when otherwise his ceiling has been as a capable backup or low-level starter.
Of course we'll never know for sure what more time in Minnesota might have looked like. Instead of pursuing Keenum in free agency before the 2018 season, the Vikings went after and signed Cousins to a three-year, $84 million guaranteed deal.
Even if Dobbs only ends up being a good half-year stopgap — and yes, we're getting ahead of ourselves after three quarters of football, the start of which was bordering on disaster — it would give the Vikings something to think about heading into 2024, when Cousins is a free agent and again a big quarterback decision looms.
If Dobbs is less than that, and this all fades quickly, that could influence the Vikings' thought process. If he seems like he's more than that, the same is true (ground we covered on Wednesday's Access Vikings podcast).
All I know is that the Vikings started the year 1-4 and we were talking about trading everyone, including Cousins, and hoping for a high draft pick. Now thanks to a strange swirl that includes Creed (and now Dobbs) but not Jefferson (and now Cousins), the Vikings are 5-4 and thinking about the playoffs.
If you're thinking about the playoffs, you might as well be thinking that anything is possible.
Can you take me higher? To a place with golden streets.
The Super Bowl is in Las Vegas this season.