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 defence with his arm and made plays with his legs to help the Minnesota Vikings beat the Lions 30-23 Thursday.
Keenum threw for two touchdowns and ran for a score in the first half to give the Vikings a double-digit lead and they went on to win a seventh straight game.
They took a huge step toward winning the NFC North by taking a three-game lead over the second-place Lions.
Keenum, undrafted out of Houston in 2012, is suddenly 7-2 this season after going 9-15 with the Houston Texas and the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams.
“I want to be great and I have confidence in myself that I can be great,” he said.
The Vikings signed him to be a backup and he has made the most of his opportunities with Sam Bradford injured and Teddy Bridgewater recovering from a knee injury.
Keeps drives alive
Keenum was 21 of 30 for 282 yards with both TD passes going to Kyle Rudolph, 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 defence. 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 charged with a fumble while trying to hand off to Ameer Abdullah.
Instead of winning to pull within a game of Minnesota and having a potential tiebreaker, the Lions’ loss hurts their chances of making a second straight post-season appearance.
“Don’t count us out just yet,” Detroit coach Jim Caldwell said. “We’ve got a lot of football yet to play.”