LANDOVER – Despite the swirling speculation of former starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater returning to the Minnesota Vikings after suffering a gruesome knee injury in 2016, he might have to wait another week.
It was Case Keenum’s time to shine as he exploited the Washington Redskins’ defense for 304 passing yards and four touchdowns to lead the Vikings to a 38-30 victory over the Redskins on Nov. 12.
“I wouldn’t say surprised, no,” Washington Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden said about Keenum's performance. “You haven’t had a big dose of Case Keenum, really, just over his career.
“I’ve always thought he was a tough, accurate quarterback and he showed that again today – very accurate. His receivers did a great job. He was able to get off progressions and scramble and move around, and when he did get out of the pocket, he hurt us with some scramble throws. He played extremely well.”
One of Keenum’s favorite targets was Minnesota State University-Mankato product Adam Thielen, who accounted for 166 yards and a touchdown on eight receptions.
Washington got things rolling in the right direction in the first quarter when quarterback Kirk Cousins hit Maurice Harris for a 36-yard touchdown. Harris came off the practice squad for the contest to stretch out to make a one-handed grab that put the Redskins out in front early.
However, Keenum served up some home cooking after he dished out a 51-yard bomb to former University of Maryland standout Stefon Diggs, which set up Latavius Murray’s 1-yard touchdown run.
After Washington kicker Nick Rose nailed a 28-yard field goal late in the first quarter to retake the lead, Diggs showed his hometown fans why he is regarded as one of the best receivers in the league. Diggs broke free in the redzone to haul in a 3-yard touchdown early in the second. He finished with 78 receiving yards (team second-high).
“We give (Keenum) that positive energy every chance we get,” Diggs said. “You try to give him that confidence when he throws the ball that it is going to come down in our hands.
“It felt good. I love being around a lot of love. It’s kind of like a home game for me. Especially when I come home, they show me a lot of love. It feels good.”
Cousins responded by leading a 13-play drive that he capped off by calling his own number from one yard out to retake the lead in a rollercoaster ride of a match.
Keenum felt the holiday spirit a little early this month and continued to carve up the Redskins like they were a Thanksgiving turkey. He reeled off three unanswered scores heading into the second half after he hooked up with Thielen for a 7-yard touchdown, hit tight end David Morgan from a yard out, and found Jarius Wright for a 7-yard touchdown.
“That was an important part of the game, no doubt about it,” Gruden said of the Vikings scoring 21 unanswered points. “We couldn’t get a stop on defense.
“We didn’t do a good job on third down or in the redzone defensively. They started the third quarter, and then they went down and went up by 18 right away, so that was a big swing that we couldn’t tip back.”
Despite Keenum’s success through the air, he still threw two interceptions to Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger. The fifth-year defender intercepted an errant pass late in the fourth quarter and returned it 31 yards to set up another rushing touchdown by Cousins to narrow the gap 35-27. This was after Rose connected on another field goal earlier in the third quarter.
Cousins had a solid outing, throwing for more than 300 yards and a score despite a first half interception. Former Redskins kicker Kai Forbath and Rose traded field goals late, but the Redskins could not get possession of a onside kick as the Vikings held on to secure their seventh win of the season.
Washington is in a bad spot in the NFC East as it has lost three of its last four contests. The Redskins will have an opportunity to bounce back against the New Orleans Saints.