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Case Keenum Earns Game Ball, Has Career Day in Vikings Victory

MINNEAPOLIS — When the Vikings quarterbacks took the field for pregame warmups, it was hard not to notice Case Keenum.

Minnesota's starting signal caller came barreling out of the tunnel, excitedly jumping up and down to fire up teammates.

Keenum then went out and played one of the best games of his professional career.

"I was having fun," Keenum said. "Guys were feeding off of me, I was feeding off of them."

Keenum completed 25 of 33 passes for a career-high 369 yards. His three touchdown passes tied a career high, and his passer rating of 142.1 was the second-best of this career.

A week after making his first start in Purple in Pittsburgh, the former University of Houston standout took command of Minnesota's offense in a convincing 34-17 win over Tampa Bay.

"I guess everybody needs a warmup sometimes," said Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who had 173 receiving yards and two touchdowns. "Just to see him go out there and make those passes and have confidence in all the receivers. We came out swinging, and when your quarterback's bringing that energy, you just try to match him.

"You just try to go in, and everybody tries to do their job, especially from my point of view," Diggs later added. "You know, just have his back. He throws you the ball; you have to catch it."

Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen, who had five catches for 98 yards, added: "He's a fighter. He's a guy you want to play for. He comes into work every day, and he grinds, and we know that we can feel his energy. The way he works, the way he wants it, and that's just a guy you want to play for and go compete for."

As evident by his pregame emotions, Keenum admitted to being raring to go early in the game.

But he didn't flinch, especially on Minnesota's first drive in which he lofted a perfect pass to Thielen down the left sideline for a 45-yard gain. The Vikings quickly followed with a 1-yard score from rookie running back Dalvin Cook.

"I think the shot early to Adam kind of calmed me down a little bit," Keenum said. "He made a heck of a play … to be able to do that early and be able to get points on the board early and right out of the gate, I think that helps everybody."

Keenum had the penchant for the big-play Sunday against the Buccaneers, connecting on four different passes that gained 35 yards or more.

Keenum, who threw touchdown passes of 2, 17 and 59 yards, credited a strong week of preparation and comfort level with the game plan for his big afternoon.

"Being at home for one, this crowd is outstanding," Keenum said. "This place is incredible to play. Kind of getting that out of my system last week, being comfortable with the game plan and kind of getting in a rhythm early."

After the game, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said quarterback Sam Bradford is day-to-day with a knee injury. 

But after a game in which Keenum performed more than admirably, Zimmer had nothing but praise for him.

"The offense and Case Keenum played outstanding," Zimmer said before later adding. "We knew Sam wasn't going to play at an earlier point this week, so we kind of prepped the game plan more toward Case.

"It was important we won," Zimmer later added. "I thought we played well as a team today. We acted like a team. Played as a team." 

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