Written by ARNIE STAPLETON, Professional Football Writer for the Associated Press.
The Minnesota Vikings’ impenetrable defense proved to be a challenge for Russell Wilson throughout the game. Despite his team’s struggles, Wilson remained confident in their offense, which only managed to score through five field goals by Wil Lutz and four punts by Riley Dixon in their first nine drives.
“We have confidence in one another … We were confident that we would come out on top,” stated Wilson following his successful drive that led Denver to its only touchdown in the final minutes of the game. This secured a 21-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night, putting an end to their five-game winning streak, which was the longest in the NFL.
With 1:03 left on the clock, Courtland Sutton’s 15-yard touchdown catch propelled Denver (5-5) to victory, giving them the current longest winning streak in the league at four games.
Wilson praised Sutton for his impressive performance, stating that he is one of the top players in the game. The quarterback aimed for a precise throw that only Sutton could catch, resulting in his eighth touchdown of the season.
As Wilson threw the ball, he was hit and unable to see the catch that won the game. He recalls, “I believe my head was turned. I only heard the loud cheers from the crowd and knew he made the catch.”
Danielle Hunter’s stop of Javonte Williams during the 2-point attempt allowed the Vikings to stay within one point, requiring a field goal from Greg Joseph in Denver’s high altitude to secure the win.
The Broncos’ defense was able to cause three turnovers, bringing their total to twelve in the last three games. This prevented the Vikings (6-5) from advancing past their own side of the field during their final drive in the last minute.
The Denver team caused Joshua Dobbs to intentionally throw the ball away, resulting in a fourth down and 25 yards to go. Dobbs then threw an incomplete pass from the Vikings’ 21 yard line with only 16 seconds remaining.
Dobbs passed for 221 yards and scored one touchdown, while also rushing for another, but unfortunately experienced his first loss with the Vikings after being acquired in a last-minute trade with Arizona.
However, he achieved a milestone in the NFL by being the first quarterback to score a touchdown via a throw and a run within the first three games with a team.
“Wow, he’s much more elusive than I had previously noticed…he was quite a challenge to tackle,” stated Broncos coach Sean Payton. “And he’s taller too. During pregame, I remarked to offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, ‘I don’t recall Dobbs being 6-3’.”
“I was amazed by his agility in the pocket. During our last 2-minute drive, we all witnessed it firsthand. He continuously evaded tackles and we were able to successfully end the drive.”
Wilson completed 27 out of 35 passes for 259 yards and did not throw any interceptions while playing for Denver.
The Broncos began their drive to take the lead from their own 25-yard line with 3:17 left on the clock, following a successful field goal by Joseph which brought the score to 20-15. This field goal concluded a drive lasting 7 minutes and 20 seconds by the Vikings, during which they executed a fake punt from their own 30-yard line.
On fourth down with 5 yards to go, Ty Chandler received the ball and ran for 31 yards, reaching Denver’s territory. He also made a 19-yard catch and run before the drive ended at the Broncos’ 12-yard line.
The 20-15 advantage appeared secure as Denver had difficulty finding a flow throughout the evening, only converting 2 out of 12 third down attempts. The Vikings dominated with 175 rushing yards compared to Denver’s 46 yards and also held a 10-minute lead in time of possession.
Wilson led the Broncos on a 75-yard drive in 10 plays, giving Denver their first lead since being up 3-0, despite being behind 17-9 after three quarters.
“It is a challenge to succeed in this league when playing away from home. It becomes even more difficult when you fail to properly handle the football,” stated Dobbs.
The Broncos were repeatedly stopped in the Vikings’ area, but Lutz managed to score from distances of 31, 31, 53, 37, and 28 yards. The final kick was made possible by an interception from nickelback Ja’Quan McMillian, which gave the Broncos possession inside the Vikings’ 10-yard line.
Jackson is ready to start working again.
Kareem Jackson, safety for the Broncos, came back after serving a two-game suspension for an unlawful tackle and was able to avoid punishment for another one during the Vikings’ first drive. He used the top of his helmet to lead a tackle on a third-and-1 play by Dobbs, causing the ball to come loose.
The Vikings’ 30-yard line was where McMillian recovered a loose ball, without any penalties being called. This was Denver’s second consecutive turnover on their opening drive. Dobbs briefly went to the medical tent, but quickly returned and did not miss any plays.
Vikings coach Kevin O’Connnell stated that the hit appeared to be a clear helmet-to-helmet contact. He acknowledged the existing rule, but noted that no penalty was called in the heat of the moment. The incident will be reviewed.
Similarly, the NFL has imposed a penalty of $89,670 on Jackson for four unlawful tackles, leading to his two-game suspension and a loss of $279,000 in earnings.
According to NBC rules analyst Terry McAulay, Jackson’s hit should have led to a 15-yard penalty and Minnesota keeping possession.
McAulay commented during the broadcast that the player deliberately made contact with the opponent by lowering his head. It was clear that the player’s head was down and this action should have resulted in a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness.
Vikings defensive lineman Dean Lowry sustained a pectoral injury during the first half of the game and was unable to continue playing. Wide receiver Justin Jefferson was also absent for his sixth game due to a strained right hamstring.
The Vikings will be hosting Chicago on Sunday.
The Broncos will be hosting Cleveland on Sunday.
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