The Denver Broncos offense was stuck in the mud all night, unable to move the football on third down (2-of-12) and in the red zone (1-of-5), but maxed out when they needed their first and only touchdown, quarterback Russell Wilson’s 15-yard TD to receiver Cortland. Sutton made it 21-20 with 1:03 left. Sutton’s receiving touchdown streak extended to five games, tying him for the third-longest streak in team history. They won the turnover battle three-to-none, but had to settle for five field goals on the night to win the final game. With 23 seconds left, their defense stopped the Vikings on fourth-and-25 from their own 21, and a Joshua Dobbs incompletion over the middle sealed the victory.
Wilson’s 38 game-winning drives and 30 fourth-quarter comebacks are both tied for the most in the league since 2012, the span of Wilson’s career, by Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford.
With the win, Denver has now reeled off four straight wins to get back into the AFC playoff race. It was the team’s first four-game winning streak since 2016, following a Super Bowl 50 victory. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph’s defense has made an inexplicable turnaround in 2023, allowing 17 points per game since Week 7 in a win tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the fewest in the league. That’s a stark contrast from Weeks 1-6, when they allowed an NFL-worst 33.3 points per game, including a Week 3 road loss at the Miami Dolphins. The 68 points allowed since Week 7 are two fewer than the 70 they surrendered in Week 3.
The Vikings really gave this game away. They lost the turnover battle 3-0 and played conservative zone defense all night.
Dobbs finished first with 221 passing yards, one passing touchdown, one interception and a fumble, going 20-for-32 passing for 21 yards and a touchdown — on a 10-yard scramble — on eight carries. Player in NFL history with passing and rushing scores in each of his first three games with a team. It’s the second time he’s accomplished the feat this season, as he did in Weeks 1-3 with the Arizona Cardinals, his first three games with them.
Dobbs briefly left the game and had to be checked into the medical tent after fumbling on the opening drive, but he came back in and dominated the rest of the half, completing 11 of 13 passes for 126 yards. A touchdown to tight end Josh Oliver when he fumbled a defender in the low red zone, he got back up and threw, scoring Oliver cleanly.
After a 10-yard scrambling touchdown on third-and-8 from the Broncos 10, Minnesota had their first possession of the second half, eight points (17-9).
Another one The Vikings fumbled this time with running back Alexander Mattison, preventing Minnesota from going ahead with two possessions at Denver’s 34 on first-and-10 in the third quarter. Nine plays later, the Broncos had to settle for another field goal, this time from 37 yards, by quarterback Russell Wilson, Minnesota linebacker T.J. On third-and-five by Wonnam, he was sacked for a three-yard loss at the Vikings 19. That drive cut Minnesota’s lead to five at 12:44, 17-12. Wilson finished with 259 passing yards and a touchdown on an efficient 27-of-35 passing.
The Vikings committed a third turnover on Dobbs’ next possession with an interception by Dobbs, but again the Broncos couldn’t capitalize despite opening the possession with a first-and-goal at the nine. Denver wide receiver Jerry Judy found himself open in the middle of the end zone on third-and-goal from the 10, but he dropped Wilson’s pass. That led to Lutz’s fifth field goal to pull the host Broncos within two, 17-15, with 10:40 left in the game.
After a turnover (an interception and a lost fumble) on both of their drives following Dobbs’ rushing score, Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell pulled out his sack. Minnesota held the football upfield, running Ty Chandler on a fourth-and-four and his own 31-yarder. Chandler also came up with the key play of the game, taking a third-and-20 checkdown pass from Dobbs to the Broncos’ 26 with under seven minutes to play. Topps converted the quarterback sneak on a sneak play. Their 14-play drive ended with Greg Joseph’s 30-yard kick to put them up 5, 20–15, forcing the Broncos to pull off a touchdown to win all game. They did it and succeeded.
Why the Broncos won
Wilson made the key plays Denver needed all night in the final drive, and head coach Sean Payton picked up points with five field goals. The Broncos’ return to 5-5 is one of the most exciting storylines of the 2023 season.
Why did the Vikings lose?
It’s incredibly difficult to win when you turn the ball over three times and don’t force anything. Those gaffes forced their defense to be perfect, and they almost were. It wasn’t close enough for Minnesota on Sunday night.
Turn of the game/game
Only one play could be this: Wilson’s 15-yard scoring strike to Sutton. The offense was anemic for about 59 minutes, but this play erased all of their woes with just over a minute to play.
The 6-5 Vikings face the 3-8 Bears at home in Week 12 on “Monday Night Football.” The 5-5 Broncos play the 7-3 Browns, who had a 13-10 win with fifth-rounder Dorian Thompson-Robinson at quarterback in Week 11 against the Steelers.