MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Case Keenum has carved out a place in the NFL as a capable backup quarterback, an undrafted former practice squad player who’s on his third team in six years.
He was much more than a fill-in for the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, bewildering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers once again.
Keenum passed for three touchdowns and a career-high 369 yards without a turnover in a sterling performance in place of Sam Bradford, steering the Vikings to a 34-17 victory over the Buccaneers .
“He looked like the best player in the NFL again today,” Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said, with a touch of exasperation. “He hit those deep balls and gave his receivers a chance, and they made the plays. They mixed it up well, so hats off to them.”
Keenum has beaten the Buccaneers in three straight seasons, the previous two with the Rams. His totals: 53 completions in 76 attempts (69.7 percent) for 793 yards, seven touchdowns and just one interception with three sacks.
While Bradford sat out for a second consecutive game because of an ailing left knee, Keenum was far more comfortable at home behind a big early lead than the previous week at Pittsburgh in a 26-9 defeat. Bradford wasn’t ruled out until the morning of that game against the Steelers, but this time the decision came on Friday.
With a 45-yard completion to Adam Thielen on the first drive that ended with Dalvin Cook’s first career touchdown run, Keenum quickly settled in. He was barely touched by the Buccaneers pass rush. Stefon Diggs had 173 yards receiving , with two of his eight catches for scores.
“It’s fun when that guy’s on the field,” Keenum said. “He’s a special dude.”
Keenum finished 25 for 33 for a 142.1 passer rating, also a career best.
“We kind of prepped the game plan more toward Case,” coach Mike Zimmer said, repeatedly praising offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and his assistants. “I thought they did a great job.”
Zimmer was so pleased he strayed from routine by presenting the game ball on the spot in the locker room to Keenum , who was then swarmed by his teammates in celebration.
“Case made some great decisions in crucial situations and made some…