The Minnesota Vikings have a big asset in a backup quarterback who can come off the bench and win.
In a 20-17 victory over the Chicago Bears on Monday night, starter Sam Bradford struggled and reaggrivated his knee injury in the first half, forcing Case Keenum into action for the second half. While the Vikings’ defense held Bears rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky in check, Keenum went 17-for-21 with 140 yards and one touchdown. He wasn’t sacked and gained 22 yards on his only run.
”He was ready to go,” receiver Stefon Diggs said. “Case is a high energy guy, he’s real focused, but he will give you some positivity and high energy, so he came in there with the right mindset.”
The performance wasn’t magical by any means as he gained only 6.7 yards per attempt, but Keenum came through with a key 13-yard score to tight end Kyle Rudolph that put the Vikings up 10-2.
“I tried to approach the week like I was starting,” Keenum said. “I did the same thing I did the previous four weeks. Honestly I did the same thing I’ve done every year I’ve been in the NFL. I’ve tried to prepare like I was the starter.”
Through four appearances, the Vikings’ backup has given them enough to win two and keep their season alive. At 3-2, the Vikings are tied with Detroit for second place in the NFC North behind the 4-1 Packers.
Keenum has thrown four touchdowns with zero interceptions and sports a 97.6 rating this season – better numbers than most teams can expect from their backup.
Historically Keenum hasn’t quite been this good, but he won nine of his previous 16 games on teams that had strong defenses. He also offers a downfield threat that man to No. 2 QBs do not – though on Monday night he took the underneath routes and screen passes the Bears were giving up.
”We did enough,” Keenum said. “A great coach I had one time said, ‘It doesn’t matter how, it matters how many,’ so it was a great team win no matter how it was done.”
While they play Green Bay next week, the Vikings’ upcoming games before the bye against Baltimore and Cleveland allow them a chance to remain competitive even if Keenum plays for an extended period of time.