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Key player

Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson

We could easily write about Joshua Dobbs here again, but let's turn the spotlight on Hockenson instead. With K.J. Osborn inactive because of a concussion, the Vikings receiving corps for Sunday was Jordan Addison, Brandon Powell, Trishton Jackson, N'Keal Harry and Jalen Nailor, who was returning from a seven-game absence. Hockenson was playing through a rib and oblique injury and was slow to get up many times, but his hard-nosed style never wavered. He had 10 catches for 128 yards in the first half, the last five in the final two minutes, ending with a 28-yard touchdown catch and a 24-3 lead. He had only one catch in the second half, when the Vikings offense went cold, but he was the leader the Vikings needed Sunday.

Key play

Dobbs' second-quarter TD run

This is where Dobbs can get his flowers. The U.S. Bank Stadium crowd was ready to love him, giving him a loud ovation when he took the field and was announced as the starting quarterback on the Vikings' opening drive. Then he was electrifying in the first half, frequently showing the running ability that set him apart last week in Atlanta as well. He was the team's leading rusher in the half, with 40 yards on six carries. The capstone was a 7-yard scramble for a touchdown on third down that gave the Vikings a 17-3 lead late in the second quarter and had coach Kevin O'Connell shrugging in amusement on the sideline.

Key number


In their five-game winning streak, the Vikings have 11 takeaways, and they have come at key times — nine in the second half. The two on Sunday — fourth-quarter interceptions by Mekhi Blackmon and Byron Murphy Jr. — helped stanch the Saints' comeback. In their 1-4 start to the season, the Vikings had only three takeaways to 12 giveaways. In their past five games, the Vikings are winning the turnover battle 11-5. While most of the conversation has been about the Vikings' musical chairs at quarterback, the defense is giving up only 17.4 points per game during the winning streak.

Up next

at Denver, Sunday, 7:20 p.m. (NBC)

The Broncos, in their first season under new head coach Sean Payton, could commiserate with the Vikings over bad starts. Denver started 1-5, the low point being a 70-20 loss to Miami in Week 3. But the Broncos, in Year 2 with quarterback Russell Wilson, have won two in a row, including a Week 8 24-9 win over the Chiefs, and are 3-5 entering Monday night's game against the Bills.

2023 schedule and results

Sept. 10: L, 20-17 vs. Tampa Bay
Sept. 14: L, 34-28 at Philadelphia
Sept. 24: L, 28-24 vs. L.A. Chargers
Oct. 1: W, 21-13 at Carolina
Oct. 8: L, 27-20 vs. Kansas City
Oct. 15: W, 19-13 at Chicago
Oct. 23: W, 22-17 vs. San Francisco
Oct. 29: W, 24-10 at Green Bay
Nov. 5: W, 31-28 at Atlanta
Nov. 12: W, 27-19 vs. New Orleans
Nov. 19: at Denver
Nov. 27: vs. Chicago
Dec. 10: at Las Vegas
TBA: at Cincinnati
Dec. 24: vs. Detroit
Dec. 31: vs. Green Bay
TBA: at Detroit