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Bleacher Report – Vikings

No surprise: Case Keenum follows up brilliant day with a forgettable performance

By Judd Zulgad

MINNEAPOLIS – The Vikings were facing a third-and-goal and trailed Detroit by seven points late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game with the ball on the Lions 3-yard line.

Case Keenum, working from the shotgun, took the snap from Pat Elflein. Lions defensive end Anthony Zettel came through untouched and threw the Vikings quarterback to the ground. The immediate assumption was that someone had missed an assignment … badly.

It turned out the culprit wasn’t an offensive lineman but rather Keenum.

“I thought I saw something and got fooled,” Keenum said following the Vikings’ 14-7 loss at U.S. Bank Stadium. “Changed the protection to the wrong protection. This is a huge play in the game, obviously, and that is one I want back. … That wasn’t a breakdown of protection.”

Keenum, it turns out, had changed the play and protection but, in doing so, turned it into an easy sack for the Lions. That put the Vikings in a fourth-and-14 situation from the Detroit 14 and Keenum ended up launching an uncatchable pass toward the back of the end zone for Adam Thielen with 2 minutes, 19 seconds remaining.

Keenum completed 16 of 30 passes for 219 yards with no touchdowns, no interceptions and a 76.9 passer rating in his third start since taking over for the injured Sam Bradford.

Keenum’s mistake was one of many the Vikings’ offense made Sunday – the Lions scored 11 points off Vikings’ turnovers and wide receiver Adam Thielen fumbled away a reception with 1:43 left to end Minnesota’s chances of rallying – but his day was a reminder of why he’s been a backup for much of his career.

Keenum threw for only 167 yards and had a 65.9 passer rating in his first start on Sept. 17 in a 26-9 loss at Pittsburgh before rebounding with one of the best games of his career (25 of 33 for 369 yards with three touchdowns and a 141.1 passer rating) last Sunday against Tampa Bay at U.S. Bank Stadium.

But that career-best performance came against a banged-up and atrocious Bucs secondary. It remains uncertain when Bradford will be able to return, but asking Keenum to start more than a few games is a recipe for a sub-.500 season.

The Vikings’ chances of succeeding with Keenum at quarterback decreased that much on Sunday when rookie running back Dalvin Cook suffered what the Vikings’ fear is a torn ACL in his left knee in the third quarter.

Having Keenum and Latavius Murray as the starting quarterback and running back tandem means the Vikings’ defense would need to go from being good to historically good for this franchise to have a shot at the postseason.

Keenum’s fourth-quarter miscue could be added to some second-quarter confusion in which he was a participant. Facing fourth-and-1 from the Vikings 36, Keenum got under center in what appeared to be an attempt to get the Lions to jump offside. It didn’t work and Keenum used a timeout in the process before the Vikings punted.

“There was a miscommunication there,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “It’s my fault.”

Keenum said it was actually a problem with the communication device in his helmet that enables a coach to relay the play to him.

“The headsets were kind of a little flaky there for a few plays,” he said. “Still, that’s not an excuse. It’s another time where you look at first and second down there, I think there was a play we had both (Stefon) Diggs and Adam (Thielen) rolling and I wish I had that play back, too. Just little things here and there that we can clean up, that we can do better, and put ourselves in a better position to win.”

The Vikings will find themselves in that position if Bradford can return. If he doesn’t, Keenum’s starts likely will continue to have the Vikings and their fans on a yo-yo.

The post No surprise: Case Keenum follows up brilliant day with a forgettable performance appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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