EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. —Case Keenum's 318 passing yards on Sunday were the most ever by a Minnesota quarterback in a Vikings postseason win.
Making his debut in the NFL Playoffs, Keenum stayed composed and came through in the clutch, delivering the ball to Stefon Diggs for a 61-yard walk-off touchdown.
The dramatic victory continued Keenum's best season as a pro in which he went 11-3 as a starter and passed for 3,547 yards and 22 touchdowns to total a career-best passer rating of 98.3.
Vikings Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur on Thursday was asked if he could have imagined Keenum having this type of season when the pair first began working together last spring.
"We certainly didn't know as much about him then as we know now," Shurmur said. "We knew he was a good player, we knew he had won games in this league. We were looking for a backup quarterback at the time, and you never know that a guy's going to come in as a starter and have the success he's had.
"I've grown to really appreciate him over the season because of all of the things that he's done, and it's really all the things that the world doesn't see: the way he prepares, the way he leads, the way he stays in the moment, the way every Monday is the same, after a win, after a loss, how he approaches Thursday, and so those are the things I really gained an appreciation for," Shurmur continued.
Shurmur also was asked to describe the way that the Vikings coaches approach working with players.
"We're educators, and I think that they don't work for us; we work together, so we start by talking," Shurmur said. "We start by talking about our background, we talk about the things that we've done in the past, we talk about the things that we like, and what you try to do is build a system around the things that the quarterback can do. We all have plays. We all run curl, flat and floor verticals; we just have to find the things that the player can do well. It really comes down to a lot of communicating, like all of us would do as educators."
Here are six other topics discussed by Shurmur, Defensive Coordinator George Edwards and Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer:
Shurmur on handling the 'whirlwind' of the past couple of weeks:
"I think every day becomes a new normal. I've always sort of felt that," Shurmur said. "We as coaches find a way to compartmentalize things, like we just finished practice, we're visiting here, and then we're quickly going to go upstairs and watch the tape. We just move on from one thing to the other, and we don't let things that are happening around us distract us, and this week is no different."
Shurmur on being named2017 NFL Assistant Coach of the Year by PFWA:
"That's certainly a tremendous honor. Those types of awards really are team awards," Shurmur said. "I think [General Manager] Rick [Spielman] and Coach [Mike] Zimmer have put together a group of players and coaches that are outstanding, and certainly our owners support our efforts. We really have a lot of guys on our team that have done their jobs week-in and week-out.
"I can speak for the offense; we have a staff of guys where we are constantly communicating so all of the good ideas can flow to the top, and my role as a coordinator is to steer the ship and provide some vision and help the quarterback function on game day," Shurmur added. "It's a great honor, but I think it's something that really is the team."
Edwards on all four remaining playoff teams ranking in the top five in defense:
"I think you have got to be able to play good situational football as a team," Edwards said. "Then defensively, if you can handle situations and be able to give your team sort of an edge, as far as getting off the field on third-downs, giving up few points in the red zone – all those things are very geared towards us having success on Sunday."
Edwards on Everson Griffen's pass deflection that was intercepted by Anthony Barr:
"That's a part of what we talk about from week-to-week in our pass rush: 'How many tipped balls?' When you have a shorter quarterback, you're able to get that done a little bit because his vision. He's got to get the ball up in the air," Edwards said. "It's a good heads-up play by Everson. Good job by [Anthony] Barr hustling to his responsibility in the coverage. It was a tipped ball we ended up intercepting and ended up being a big play for us during the course of the game."
Priefer on the game's final sequence:
Priefer said when Diggs caught the pass from Keenum at the New Orleans 34, he was screaming for the receiver to get out of bounds to stop the clock and allow an opportunity for a 52-yard field goal by Kai Forbath, who had just nailed a 53-yarder.
"I was yelling, 'Out of bounds!' Probably me and a lot of other people. I was yelling, "Get out of bounds! No, score, score!"
"[It] would've been a 52-yarder, so that would've been good," Priefer said. "Of course you're going to have to try because there's no other time left. I felt pretty comfortable 55 and in because he had hit a 60-yarder in pre-game. He missed one and made one in pre-game, and of course [it was] indoors and great conditions. I felt pretty confident. He had been hitting the ball well all day."
Priefer on Vikings fans and Saints P Thomas Morstead raising money for Minnesota children:
Vikings fans were impressed by the sportsmanship of Saints punter Thomas Morstead, who tore rib cartilage early in the game but stayed in the game and returned to the field so that the point-after-touchdown snap could occur. They began an online fundraising campaign for his "What You Give Will Grow" foundation, and Morstead announced he would commit all money donated by Vikings fans* *to Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.
The Vikings and Saints each committed $5,000, and the total raised surpassed $170,000 – and was increasing – by mid-day Thursday.
Priefer said he's been impressed by Morstead in more ways than one.
"I like Thomas. He is a good man. He is a great punter," Priefer said. "He is a great ambassador for the game. I'm glad people are helping his cause. I think it is a great foundation. I've looked into it just a little bit. He is a fine punter, fine young man. I'm glad people are helping him. It's a great thing the fans are doing that."