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NOTEBOOK: Case Keenum Ducks & Delivers in Vikings 6th Straight Win
November 20, 2017 01:31 AM | Craig Peters


MINNEAPOLIS - Duck, duck, great delivery.

The approach worked for Case Keenum on a key 12-yard completion to Adam Thielen to set up Minnesota's first score.

Rams edge rusher Robert Quinn went flying by Vikings quarterback Case Keenum, with an outstretched hand glancing Keenum's helmet. Connor Barwin then landed more of a blow from the other direction, but Keenum bent at the waist and kept his balance.

He spotted Thielen streaking across the field and delivered the ball to Thielen despite taking a huge hit from Michael Brockers.

The reception moved the ball from the Los Angeles 30 to the 18, avoided a negative play and gave the drive momentum in what eventually turned into a 24-7 Vikings win.

"That one was crazy. We had called a little roll-out pass," Keenum said. "Just trying to find somebody open downfield. I don't know who it was that came around. Riley had to block forever. He was like, 'I thought you were rolling out right.'



"I think the guy he had he completely pushed all the way around. I just kind of ducked and did the 'get small drill,' " Keenum added. "We work on that in practice with Stefanski. No, I'm just playing. Adam did a great job finding some space."

It was just one example of Keenum wanting to make plays for his current team against what happened to be his former team.

Reiff admired the tenacity on the play and the way the quarterback worked with offensive linemen to avoid any sacks for a fifth game this season, tying a Vikings record.

"Case does a good job of getting rid of the ball, and he's pretty squirmy," Reiff said. "He got out of that one today, and he's playing great."

He wasn't the only one. Kyle Rudolph took in the play on U.S. Bank Stadium's video board.

"He got out of one today where I'm down the field, and I saw the replay," said Rudolph, who had five catches for 58 yards. "Just the way he was able to duck and get out and hit Adam while taking a pretty big hit was incredible and was huge for us."

Keenum said his mindset shifted during the week from "circling the game" to "more toward this is just another game, another team, another really good football team."

"For me, at some point this week, I looked at what this means and what we've done," Keenum said. "I don't have to be anything but myself. If I put too much into this or if I try too hard, I hurt my teammates. I wanted to be here, talking to after a big win."

He can write a W on the calendar if he wants after completing 27 of 38 passes for 280 yards with one score and a passer rating of 100.8, but the ink doesn't have long to dry before preparations begin for Thursday's game at Detroit.

Thielen, who caught six passes for 123 yards and broke open the game with a 65-yard catch-and-run touchdown, said, "I mean, I guess if I put myself in that situation , I would think it was a big game."



"But at the same time, we get the same Case every week, a guy that just prepares and busts his tail and is in the quarterbacks room before everybody else is probably even waking up," Thielen said. "Just the way he prepares is pretty inspiring, and I think that's why we've been able to do what we're doing. He knows the playbook, and he knows the game plan better than anybody."

For all of the hours of preparation, Keenum also has a knack of responding when things don't quite go as planned.

"I think that's something that Case does really well," Thielen said. "He's able to scramble and kind of give us more time to get open. For us now, it's just learning how he scrambles and what he's looking for and just getting open."

Keenum also made a quick decision to tuck and run in response to the coverage played by the Rams on a pass play and gained 14 yards. He had the option of sliding feet first and receiving protection from being hit, but Keenum surged forward.

"He's just a playmaker," running back Latavius Murray said. "Like I was just saying, it shows the risk he's able to take, and they work out for us. That's the kind of player he is when he has that kind of confidence to get out of the pocket."



Tay Train Times 2

Murray had a prolific day, rushing 15 times for 96 yards and two touchdowns. He was effective inside the 10-yard line with touchdown runs of 8 and 2 yards.

It was Murray's fifth career game with two or more touchdowns and his first with the Vikings. The first score evened the game at 7, and the second, which involved a gritty second effort, gave Minnesota a 14-7 lead.

His "Tay Train" celebration was the caboose for both plays, in homage to a nickname he's had since high school.

"One of the high school game announcers ," Murray said. "It's been around for a long time. A lot of people think I'm just going out there and tootin' my horn and stuff like that, but I've been the 'Tay Train' for a while. I want everyone to know that."

Murray averaged 6.3 yards per carry, fueling a Vikings rush attack that totaled 171 yards on 35 carries and kept the ball in the Vikings hands for more than 37 minutes of the game.



Stingy defense

The Vikings defense bottled up the Rams run game, allowing just 45 yards on 17 carries (2.6 yards per attempt) and limiting Todd Gurley to 37 rush yards on 15 carries and 19 receiving yards on three receptions.

The longest run for Los Angeles on the day was a 9-yard scramble by quarterback Jared Goff.

"They have Everson Griffen back, one of the elite pass rushers in this league," Gurley said. "Linval Joseph, he is a great interior defensive lineman. They have two of the best linebackers in Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks. Their secondary did pretty well, and they did a pretty good job without Andrew Sendejo today."

It was the fourth time this season that Minnesota's defense has not allowed a run of 10 or more yards in a game.



Turning Point at Turnover

After allowing a touchdown on the opening drive, the Vikings kept the Rams off the scoreboard the rest of the way.

That doesn't mean Los Angeles didn't have a golden opportunity.

Goff completed a pass to Cooper Kupp for a gain of 10 to the Minnesota 1 with Anthony Harris, who was filling in for Sendejo, forced and recovered a fumble.

It took another quarter plus for the Vikings to take the lead, but Los Angeles' high-scoring attack lost its mojo after the turnover.

The Rams gained 20, 2, 22 and 8 yards, respectively, on their first four possessions of the second half.



Preserving the lead

After Kai Forbath's 39-yard field goal gave Minnesota a 17-point lead with 2:23 remaining, the Vikings shifted to a prevent defense, and the Rams moved the ball into the red zone.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer opted to pull the first team to rest them for Thursday's game, and the second team responded by keeping the Rams out of the end zone.

Harris had a nice pass breakup in the end zone on third down, and rookie Tashawn Bower recorded his first career sack on fourth-and-10.

"I saw him flashing out to his right," Bower said. "Stephen did a great job of containing him, made him come back inside. We had a good rush up the middle, so he couldn't go there. I came back underneath and finished the play.

"It's something special," Bower added later. "That first sack is something you always dream about."

Bower said the second unit took pride in keeping the score the way it was when the starters left.

"It's a big deal," Bower said. "It's something you don't take lightly, especially when you're a young guy who is not really getting all the reps, so you have to make the most of your opportunities, and I think we did as a group."

Danielle Hunter also sacked Goff in the first quarter. Hunter took down Goff at the Los Angeles 1 to help give the Vikings offense the ball at the Rams 30 and set up Minnesota's first touchdown.

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