There were times last season when Russell Wilson looked like a lost cause.
He wasn't even 35 years old, yet it looked like his time as a top quarterback might be over. In some games, you were allowed to wonder if Wilson was even a starting NFL quarterback anymore. The Denver Broncos' trade for Wilson and the contract extension they gave him looked like a disaster.
Nobody is ripping Wilson now. He might not be back to the form he had when he was making the Pro Bowl just about every season with the Seattle Seahawks, but he's having a remarkable revival with Sean Payton coaching him. Wilson led a clutch drive against the Minnesota Vikings and hit Courtland Sutton for a go-ahead 15-yard touchdown pass with a little more than a minute to go. The Broncos got a stop after that and won 21-20, their fourth win in a row. They have beat quality teams like the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills and Vikings in that streak. They're 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 when compared to a lot of the quarterbacks around the league who are struggling. Then Sunday night's two-minute drive was exactly what the Broncos thought they were getting with Wilson.
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 tucked it and ran. He went 10 yards for the touchdown and the Vikings led 17-9. That also got Dobbs a step closer to making some history.
Since 1930, only two players have led multiple teams in rushing TD in the same season:
• Joshua Dobbs with the Cardinals and Vikings in 2023 (through Week 11)
• Herschel Walker with the Cowboys and Vikings in 1989 #Skol @Vikings @nfl @OptaSTATS
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) November 20, 2023
It was a tight game in which the defenses were playing well. A couple of well-timed big plays by Dobbs were the difference through three quarters. Dobbs had already been traded by the Cleveland Browns and Arizona Cardinals in the past three months, but the Vikings seem to have found a good replacement for Kirk Cousins, who is out for the season with a torn Achilles. That's a coup, considering how many teams in the NFL are struggling at quarterback this season.
But in the end, Dobbs couldn't outduel Wilson.
Broncos pull out the win
Dobbs had a big mistake in the fourth quarter. He was hit as he tried to throw, Ja'Quan McMillian picked off the fluttering pass and returned it to the Vikings' 9-yard line. The Broncos trailed, 17-12, and had a great opportunity to take the lead. But the Vikings' defense held again. It was helped by a rare offensive face mask penalty, called on receiver Marvin Mims Jr. as he tried to gain extra yards. The Broncos kicked another field goal and the Vikings still led by two.
Minnesota's special teams came up with a huge 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 drive alive with a fourth-down quarterback sneak, which kept taking time off the clock. The drive took 7:20 and resulted in a field goal with 3:17 to go.
That was enough time for Wilson, who has been great in the fourth quarter throughout his career. The Broncos got deep into Vikings territory with the game on the line. Wilson hit a big fourth-down pass to Sutton and a big third-down to Samaje Perine. With 1:03 left, Wilson hit Sutton in the end zone for a great leaping touchdown. The Broncos led 21-20. A pitch to Javonte Williams on the two-point conversion was stopped cold, and the Vikings had a chance to win with a field goal.
Dobbs had time to answer. He was just short of the sticks on a third-down run, but picked up the first down on a quarterback sneak. After that, the Broncos' pass rush took over. They forced a turnover on downs, and Denver had another win.
Wilson has had his share of critics. They're a lot quieter after the past few games.