View the best images of Vikings quarterbacks from 2017.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — For the second straight season, the Vikings had to adjust on the fly at the quarterback position.
Minnesota entered the 2017 season with Sam Bradford as the starter and Case Keenum as the backup while Teddy Bridgewater continued to rehab from a 2016 injury.
That pecking order lasted just one game.
Bradford started the opener and threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns against New Orleans but also suffered a knee injury.
Enter Keenum, who was thrust into the starting role after being signed as a free agent in the offseason.
Keenum started all but one of Minnesota's remaining games, going 11-3, and helped the Vikings win another game by entering just before halftime at Chicago. The Vikings quarterback finished his first season with Minnesota by throwing for 3,547 yards with 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Keenum also posted a season-long quarterback rating of 98.3, which was the seventh-best in the NFL in 2017 and is the fifth-highest by a Vikings QB. He had eight games in which he had a rating of 100 or better.
The Texas native said he will have plenty of fond memories of this season.
"Coming back after Pittsburgh and beating Tampa and getting the game ball after that with the guys surrounding me in the locker room, is one of the highlights of my career, for sure," Keenum said on January 29. "Beating Detroit on Thanksgiving was awesome. Beating [my] old team — when you put so much into it, it feels good.
"I don't think anybody can take away from any Vikings fan the 'Miracle,' so [there are] a lot of great things that the Vikings family gets to share from this season," Keenum added.
Bradford started in Week 5 in Chicago but was pulled before halftime after re-aggravating his injury. He was placed on Injured Reserve for the final half of the season but returned to the active roster for the postseason
Although Bradford has dealt with multiple injuries, he said his passion for the game kept him motivated during the rehab process.
"I think, really, just the love you have for the game, but then also the work that you put in during the offseason," Bradford said. "That's the hardest thing, is knowing how much time, how much work I put in in the offseason, trying to get ready for the season, and to have it taken away again, you just realize how special it is to be out on that field with your teammates – being able to compete out there in the National Football League.
"It's one of the greatest honors there is," Bradford added. "I think once you have a taste of that feeling, it's really hard to let it go."
Bridgewater returned to the field for the first time in almost 19 months when he played in the fourth quarter in Minnesota's Week 15 win over Cincinnati.
Although Bridgewater was intercepted in his season debut, he said it was a joyous occasion to get back on the field after such a severe injury and rehab process.
"We were playing well enough today that maybe there was a chance I could get in there, so hat's off to the guys getting out early, jumping out on those guys," Bridgewater said in December. "We set some goals early in this week, and we started fast, just like we talked about. It was just good. In the third quarter, I'm like, 'Hey, maybe there's a possibility that I might get in.' And then it happened."
*99.1 — *Minnesota's trio of quarterbacks combined for a passer rating of 99.1, the fourth-highest total in the league.
The Vikings sat at 1-1 when they returned to U.S. Bank Stadium for Keenum's first home start. The quarterback lit up the scoreboard as he threw for a career-high 369 yards with three touchdowns. He posted a quarterback rating of 142.1, the second-highest mark of his career.
*Regular Season Statistics *
325 completions on 481 attempts (67.6 percent) for 3,547 yards with 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions with a passer rating of 98.3
32 completions on 43 attempts (74.4 percent) for 382 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions with a passer rating of 124.4
0 completions on 2 attempts with a passer rating of 39.6
"I think, again it goes back to the character of these guys. I talked to Teddy a week ago it was, 'Let's do what you feel is best for the team.' When [Sam] Bradford came back he said, 'I don't want to be a distraction, things are going good. I just want to get back out there because that's what I like to do. I like to go play and practice.' So, these guys understand the things are going pretty good so there's no real reason to rock the boat. Kind of the character of our football team. They want to play, there's no doubt about it. I don't think it takes away from their competitiveness. What it shows is their character that they have." — Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer on the selflessness of his quarterbacks during the 2017 season