Keenum, Vik­ings add to NFC North lead

The Mercury News Weekend - - SPORTS -

Case Keenum stood in the pocket to take a hit, dipped his right shoul­der to slip out of a sack and shuf­fled his feet in the pocket to give his re­ceivers more time to get open.

Look­ing like a savvy win­ner, in­stead of a jour­ney­man, he picked apart Detroit’s de­fense with his arm and made plays with his legs to help the Min­nesota Vik­ings beat the Lions 30-23 Thurs­day in Detroit.

Keenum threw for two touch­downs and ran for a score in the first half to give the Vik­ings a dou­bledigit lead and they went on to win a sev­enth straight game.

They took a huge step to­ward win­ning the NFC North by tak­ing a three­game lead over the sec­ond­place Lions.

Keenum, un­drafted out of Houston in 2012, is sud­denly 7-2 this sea­son af­ter go­ing 9-15with the Houston Texas and the St. Louis/Los An­ge­les Rams.

The Vik­ings signed him to be a backup and he has made the­most of his op­por­tu­ni­ties with Sam Brad­ford in­jured and Teddy Bridge­wa­ter re­cov­er­ing from a knee in­jury.

Keenum was 21 of 30 for 282 yards with both TD passes go­ing to Kyle Ru- dolph, giv­ing the Vik­ings a 20-3 lead late in the sec­ond quar­ter.

“Case is amaz­ing be­cause he does so many small things to pick up first downs and keep drives alive,” Ru­dolph said. “Ev­ery time he finds a way to con­vert an­other third down, it means we’ve got three more plays to at­tack the de­fense. With the num­ber of big-play guys we’ve got now, we can do a lot of dam­age with those three plays.”

Detroit (6-5) made mis­takes in ev­ery phase of the game and Min­nesota took ad­van­tage. Keenum’s 1-yard pass to Ru­dolph was made a lit­tle eas­ier be­cause the Lions had just 10 de­fend­ers on the field. And, Keenum’s 9-yard run came af­ter Matthew Stafford was charged­with a fum­ble while try­ing to­hand offto Ameer Ab­dul­lah. CHARG­ERS BEAT FAD­ING COW­BOYS » Philip Rivers was more than com­fort­able on the Thanks­giv­ing stage for the first time in his 14 NFL sea­sons.

Same with Keenan Allen, who didn’t have towait nearly that long.

Rivers threw for 434 yards and three touch­downs, Allen had a ca­reer­high 172 yards in his sec­ond straight huge game and the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers beat the fad­ing Dal­las Cow­boys 28- 6 in Ar­ling­ton, Texas.

Des­mond King re­turned an in­ter­cep­tion 90 yards for the punc­tu­at­ing touch­down. The Charg­ers (5- 6) moved within 1 ½ games of AFC West-lead­ing Kansas City af­ter start­ing 0- 4 while the Chiefs won their first five.

“Play­ing on Thanks­giv­ing was ev­ery­thing it was cranked up to be,” said Rivers, who was 27 of 33 in his ninth ca­reer 400-yard game . “As a quar­ter­back, you want to play well and throw it to your guys, and we did a lot to­day. But I’m more ex­cited about our team.”

The de­fend­ing NFC East cham­pion Cow­boys (56) have lost three straight games by at least 20 points for the first time since 2004, all with­out sus­pended star run­ning back Ezekiel El­liott in a dam­ag­ing slide for their fad­ing play­off hopes.

Dal­las, play­ing its 50th Thanks­giv­ing game, fi­nally ended a touch­down drought at a team-record 10 quar­ters on Rod Smith’s 2-yard run early in the fourth quar­ter. The Cow­boys have been outscored 72- 6 in the sec­ond half of the three losses. WASHINGTON20, N.Y. GI­ANTS 10 » Kirk Cousins threw two touch­down passes to com­pen­sate for a pick- 6 to lead Wash­ing­ton on a drab field in a drab game be­tween two in­jury- de­pleted teams that did not look ready for prime time.

The first half, in par­tic­u­lar, was de­void of high­lights: The NFC East ri­vals com­bined for nine punts and only six points.

But Cousins led Wash­ing­ton (5- 6) on two TD drives in the sec­ond half, con­nect­ing with Jami­son Crow­der on a 15-yarder in the third quar­ter that broke a 3-all tie, and with Josh Doct­son on a 14-yarder with 3 ½ min­utes re­main­ing in the game.

In the sec­ond half, the Gi­ants (2- 9) had one pos­ses­sion end with an in­ter­cep­tion by Eli Man­ning, four end with punts and an­other when they turned the ball over on downs.


Vik­ings quar­ter­back Case Keenum pulls away from the Lions de­fense to score on a 9-yard run Thurs­day.

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