ATLANTA (AP) — Joshua Dobbs hadn't had time to learn his new Minnesota teammates' names in his five days with the team, much less figure out the playbook.
That didn't stop Dobbs from thriving in what he described as a “learn as you go, hair on fire, hold onto your seat” challenging game.
Dobbs threw two touchdown passes, including a go-ahead 6-yarder to Brandon Powell with 22 seconds remaining, and also ran for a score five days after being acquired in a trade to help rally the Vikings past the Atlanta Falcons 31-28 on Sunday for their fourth straight win.
Minnesota (5-4) overcame the loss of rookie quarterback Jaren Hall to a concussion in the first quarter. Hall had taken all the first-team practice snaps this week as the Vikings adjusted to the loss of veteran Kirk Cousins for the season with a torn Achilles tendon.
Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell was hoarse after talking Dobbs through every snap, giving instructions through the quarterback's headset.
The challenge was made more difficult for the Vikings, already playing without top wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who has a hamstring injury, losing receiver K.J. Osborn to a concussion and running back Cam Akers to an injury during the game.
“I don't know if I've been a part of one like that,” O'Connell said, adding all players received a game ball after the game he described as “an ultimate team win.”
Dobbs led the go-ahead drive after Tyler Allgeier’s 5-yard scoring run gave Atlanta the lead with 2:08 remaining. Dobbs had a 22-yard run on a fourth down play to keep the drive alive.
Dobbs was acquired from the Arizona Cardinals on Tuesday. The 28-year-old Dobbs started all eight games for the Cardinals. He had his first practice with the Vikings on Wednesday, leaving little preparation time.
“What he was able to do in really five days' time was as impressive as I've seen a quarterback be able to do,” O'Connell said.
Dobbs' first series of plays began at the Minnesota 7 and ended with a third down sack by Calais Campbell in the end zone for a safety early in the second quarter. The sack gave Atlanta a 5-3 lead.
Dobbs overcame the ugly first series and made his case to keep the starting job. He completed 20 of 30 passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns and had seven carries for 66 yards and another score.
“People don’t really care about your circumstance,” Dobbs said. “They just want to see you succeed given the circumstance you’re given.”
The Falcons (4-5) had their own quarterback drama this week.
Taylor Heinicke was selected as Atlanta’s starter on Wednesday. Heinicke took over in the second half of last week’s 28-23 loss at Tennessee after Desmond Ridder was sacked five times and lost a fumble — his 10th turnover in the past five games.
More changes could be coming.
“Every week, we are looking to improve,” coach Arthur Smith said. “We lose games this close, we have to change something to get over the hump.”
The Falcons (4-5) took pressure off Heinicke when the game was on the line, running the ball on the final 12 plays of their 13-play, go-ahead touchdown drive. That included five consecutive runs by Allgeier.
Heinicke completed 21 of 38 passes for 268 yards with one touchdown and one interception and then threw a compliment to Dobbs.
“The fact that he got traded this week and comes in and plays like that? He’s a good player, man,” Heinicke said. “Playing on a short week, learning a new playbook and scoring 31 points, kudos to him.”
Hall and other Minnesota players showed their support for Cousins by wearing T-shirts in pregame warmups that included a graphic image of the quarterback.
Osborn was carted off the field with a concussion following a hit from Dee Alford, who was penalized for a personal foul, late in the first half. Osborn rose to his feet before sitting on the cart for the ride off the field. Vikings LT Christian Darrisaw was inactive after being downgraded to questionable on Saturday with a groin injury. David Quessenberry was the fill-in starter.
Falcons CB Dee Alford left the game with an ankle injury. S Richie Grant was cleared after being evaluated for a concussion in the fourth quarter.
The Vikings continue their tour through the NFC South when they host the New Orleans Saints next Sunday.
The Falcons visit Arizona on Sunday.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL