Case for the Vikings
Journeyman QB eager to lead NFC’s top seed in first career playoff start
Much has changed since Minnesota and New Orleans met in the very first week of the season, but the biggest difference may be under centre for the Vikings offence.
Journeyman quarterback Case Keenum is set to make the first playoff start of his career when the NFC’s top seed host the Saints in the divisional round tonight.
Keenum played in all but one game this season – the opener, which now feels like forever ago, when Sam Bradford picked apart New Orleans for a 29-19 win.
After Bradford suffered a knee injury, Keenum took over the reins for good in Week 2 and hasn’t relinquished them since, helping the Vikings finish with a 13-3 record and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
In his fifth season as a pro, Keenum will now gets the well-earned chance to play in the postseason.
“I call it not a scared nervous, but an excited nervous,” Keenum said.
“I’m excited because I’m prepared and I know what I’m gonna do. I know I’m gonna play.
“But man, you get the adrenaline going, you’re waiting in that tunnel, you hear U.S. Bank Stadium going crazy out there. I mean, if you’re not feeling something at that point, I tell people you might be an adrenaline junkie and need to go jump out of planes or bungee or do other
stuff like that because it’s an exciting moment and it’s really cool.”
Keenum may have been labelled a “game manager” before this season, but with Minnesota he’s blossomed into one of the better quarterbacks in the league.
His passer rating of 98.3 was seventh-best in the NFL, while his completion percentage of 67.6 ranked second.
Keenum’s counterpart on New Orleans tonight (UAE: 01:40 +1) will be a quarterback with no shortage of experience, having made 12 career playoff starts and winning a Super Bowl ring.
Drew Brees reminded of his status as one of the top signal-callers in the game when he dissected Carolina in the wild card round last week, but the 38-year-old is likely to be in for a tougher challenge against Minnesota.
The Vikings defence allowed the fewest yards in the league (275.9 per game), surrendered the fewest points (15.8) and were the stingiest, by a wide margin, on third down (25.2 per cent conversion rate).
Purple patch: Minnesota’s Case Keenum boasted the seventh-best passer rating in the NFL this season at 98.3.