MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Case Keenum played the best game of his NFL career on Sunday, giving the Minnesota Vikings a 34-17 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and giving fans across Minnesota that confidence and hope they needed after Sam Bradford’s second missed start of the young season.
Keenum completed 25 for 33 passes for 369 yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers.
“Sure was a fun day today,” Keenum posted on Twitter after the game, adding a #SKOL hashtag.
Sure was a fun day today. #SKOL— Case Keenum (@casekeenum7) September 25, 2017
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer doesn’t typically hand out game balls, but Keenum’s outstanding play earned him the rare honor.
“It’s true, I usually don’t give out game balls after a game,” Zimmer said. “I thought he played great, made great decisions, took care of the football. There was times he ran the ball when he needed to. I thought he played great.”
All of the talk surrounding the Vikings heading into Week 3 was the left knee injury to starting quarterback Sam Bradford. Bradford injured his left knee on a non-contact play in the team’s season-opening win over the New Orleans Saints – a game in which he had a career-best 143.0 passer rating. Bradford was inactive against Pittsburgh, with Keenum completing 20 of 37 passes for 167 yards in a 26-9 Vikings loss. That performance, coupled with Bradford’s injury and Teddy Bridgewater’s status on the physically unable to perform list, had Vikings fans and the media searching for answers at the quarterback position.
But Keenum was ready.
"I accept my role on this team," Keenum said after Sunday’s win. "I know I want to be ready whenever my name is called, so that's why I prepare."
As for Bradford, Zimmer said the quarterback is still “day to day.”
“I honestly don’t know,” Zimmer said in his postgame press conference. “It’s day to day and we’ll go from there.”
When it comes to Sam Bradford, Case Keenum is taking it day-to-day as well.
“I’m not so worried about that. I am going to enjoy this win and I’ve got a 24-hour rule. Watch the film, learn from it, grow from it and then move on,” Keenum said. “ We’ve got three divisional opponents coming in. Not to look too far ahead, but we’ve got a great team coming in this next week. That is the NFL. It’s great teams and great defenses every week so we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Vikings fans: “This crowd is outstanding and this place is incredible. This place is incredible to play. I know it’s my favorite. It’s my wife’s favorite place to watch a game too. I’m sure she enjoyed herself today as well."
Finding rhythm: “I think second week kind of getting that out of my system last week, being comfortable with the game plan, playing at home, and just kind of getting into a rhythm early. I think us not hurting ourselves we did better with that this week.”
BEATING THE BUCS
Keenum has defeated Tampa Bay in three straight seasons – the past two with the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams. Against the Bucs over that span, Keenum has passed for 793 yards, seven touchdowns and just one interception.
"He looked like the best player in the NFL again today," Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter said.
ROOKIE’S FIRST TD
Rookie running back Dalvin Cook scored his first NFL touchdown to start the game. He finished with 169 total yards.
BEST WIDE RECEIVER DUO IN THE NFL, STATISTICALLY
Vikings wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are No. 2 and No. 3 in the NFL in receiving yards through three weeks. Thielen’s 299 yards and Diggs’ 293 yards trail only Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown (352 yards). Diggs had a highlight reel performance Sunday, with 11 catches for 173 yards and two touchdowns, including a 59-yard catch-and-run to put the Vikings up 28-3 in the third quarter.
“I think it was the first play of the second half where we caught them with a few extra men on the field and just giving Diggs a chance and he makes another special play and it’s following that guys on the field,” Keenum said. “He’s a special dude.”