Joshua Dobbs Wasn’t the Only Unlikely Hero to Emerge vs. Falcons

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

When head coach Kevin O’Connell held his locker room speech after the glorious win, he emphasized that the victory over the Atlanta Falcons was a true team effort, and he promised every player would get a game ball. It truly was a perfect example of complimentary football, and all three phases were necessary for the close win that put the team over the .500 mark in the standings.

Joshua Dobbs Wasn’t the Only Unlikely Hero to Emerge vs. Falcons

The offense struggled in the first half, and the defense kept them in the game. When the defense allowed a couple of touchdowns in the second half, it was the offense that kept outscoring their opponents, while the special teams also had a good day.

unlikely hero
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports.

Everyone rightfully focuses on Joshua Dobbs and his heroics. The guy who had been in the building for only four days when the game kicked off and never expected to play. Everything changed when Jaren Hall got tackled hard at the goal line, and the hit landed him in concussion protocol. Dobbs deserves a lot of credit for his gutsy performance. He played a brilliant and unforgettable game.

But other guys also made plays, even some unexpected ones, besides the stars T.J. Hockenson, Danielle Hunter, and Jordan Addison. When Justin Jefferson is missing, the game changes. Not every other pass can just be thrown to the superstar wideout–covered or not–the targets have to be spread out.

Hockenson and Addison were the players with the most receptions and yards, combining for 12 grabs and 121 yards. They also played a crucial role in Minnesota’s final drive of the game, which was capped off by the game-winning score.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports.

That money play, Dobbs’ final pass of the afternoon, was caught by one unlikely hero. Brandon Powell made the grab, a player not many expected to be on the field with the offense just a few months ago. He was signed back in March, and folks expected him to compete with Jalen Reagor for the punt return job, but given the investments made, it was still Reagor’s job to lose. His track record, or lack thereof, as a wideout didn’t really help him.

Powell bounced around between practice squads and 53-man rosters, and when he played, it was mainly as a return specialist. But he beat out Reagor in training camp and earned a roster spot. Jalen Nailor got hurt, Jefferson got hurt, and he suddenly was asked to contribute on offense.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Two weeks ago, Cousins praised the speedy wideout after a breakout game against the 49ers when he caught four passes and produced 64 yards: “I texted him after the game and just said, ‘The player you were on Monday night is kind of the player I see you being game in and game out. It’s kind of what I expect from you because I think you do separate versus man. You do make plays after the catch.’ We’re fortunate to have him.”

In that contest, the Vikings were without Jefferson and rookie sensation Addison was absent for a drive because of cramps. Powell stepped up and made plays. He has now caught passes in five straight games.

Perhaps his most significant play and likely the most memorable one as a professional football player, Powell was the guy Dobbs trusted on a third down close to the end zone late in the fourth quarter.

The incredible aspect is that Powell only caught one other pass in the whole game besides the game-winner. With Dobbs not knowing his teammates, he presumably had no idea that Powell isn’t a star receiver and just threw it to a random guy who was open on Kevin O’Connell’s wonderful play design.

Powell will likely continue to play a role in the offense in addition to his job as a punt returner, although he is unlikely to post gaudy stat lines. The 28-year-old has been a late bloomer but is slowly making a name for himself as a reliable target in clutch moments.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt