Case Keenum played a major role in helping the Vikings get to 7-2 on Sunday, throwing for 300-plus yards and a career-high four touchdowns.
The Vikings quarterback had plenty of fun while doing so, too.
Keenum chatted after the game with Peter King of The Monday Morning Quarterback about the joy he has in playing football, noting that days like Sunday are what make playing in the NFL so great.
Keenum was not just a facilitator Sunday — not just a quarterback along for the ride with an excellent one-two receiver punch in Stefon Diggs and emerging star Adam Thielen. Keenum lasered a 51-yard throw down the right sideline for Diggs, a perfectly placed deep ball. He showed excellent touch on a lofted pop throw to Thielen down the left sideline. Under pressure and about to get creamed by Washington rushers Will Compton and Terrell McClain, Keenum fired a perfect pass up the left seam to Thielen. And later Keenum rolled out and waited, waited, waited for Thielen to get free in the end zone and threw a perfect strike, with Josh Norman draped on Thielen, for a touchdown.
Keenum finished 21 of 29 for 304 yards and four touchdowns, with two picks. He was not perfect. But this very likely was the best game of his 34-game NFL life, a career that has seen him serve as the backup and start for the **Texans*, Rams and Vikings in six seasons. It's been a long, winding and oft-frustrating road for the Texan. He's from Abilene and went to the University of Houston, and his voice still is Texas all the way.*
"What a blast," Keenum said. "So rewarding. I'll never forget, early in my career, we were struggling in Houston [with the Texans], and after one game, [MLB pitcher] John Lackey, he's from the same hometown as me, and we know each other some … really good dude. He's been through everything in baseball — played in some of the biggest games at the highest level, and I respect him a lot. He sent me a text. I can give you the edited version. He said, 'Remember this day, because days like this are what makes winning so good.'
"Man, he's right. Days like today are why you put your hat in the ring. Let's be honest: If they played this game on paper, I wouldn't be in this league. But it's a game for competitors, and I'm a competitor."
Keenum had a passer rating of 117.0 for the game, the second-highest mark of the season and fifth-best rating of his career.
He has completed 170 of 262 passes (64.9 percent) for 1,914 yards with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. He has a passer rating of 92.6.
Hill has strong showing in first NFL start
Rashod Hill checked off a personal milestone Sunday as he made his first career start while filling in for right tackle Mike Remmers.
Hill performed admirably against Washington defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, one of the league's top pass rushers over the past few seasons.
Matthew Coller of 1500ESPN.com chatted with Hill about his starting debut as the offensive tackle explained what worked well against Kerrigan.
Kerrigan ranks fifth, right behind Everson Griffen, among pass rushers with the most sacks in the NFL over the past four seasons. Prior to the Vikings' matchup with Washington, Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was effusive in his praise for Kerrigan, lauding his work ethic, saying, "he never takes a play off."
On Sunday, Kerrigan was a ghost against backup tackle Rashod Hill. According to Pro Football Focus tracking stats, Hill allowed zero quarterback pressures.
"He's quick off the ball," Hill said of Kerrigan. "He's a smart guy. You gotta be ready to get your hands on him because he's not only quick but powerful, too. There was one play he came in with a long-arm [bull rush], and I really felt it."
While Hill's pass protection was top notch, he said he main focus was actually improving his run blocking heading into Week 10.
Following the win over Cleveland, [Vikings Head Coach Mike] Zimmer noted some issues with Hill's run blocking, but said this week they had focused on it during practice.
At least on one key play, Hill's run blocking was strong. Following a Kirk Cousins interception, Latavius Murray picked up 13 yards to set up a 1-yard touchdown pass by Case Keenum.
"Zim' and Tony [Sparano] told me to work on my run blocking, so that's what I'm going to do every day," Hill said. "That's what he really emphasized. Technique, technique, technique, technique. That's all Zim' was telling me every day. That's what I've been trying to focus on with run blocking, bringing my hips and trying to finish guys."
Hill, who played at Southern Mississippi, joined the Vikings last November after being on Jacksonville's practice squad.