From the Things That Would Have Been Utterly Unbelievable a Year Ago Today department, President Donald Trump getting into a feud with LaVar Ball somehow isn’t even the most unbelievable.
With apologies to the Big Baller Brand, the showdown between Case Keenum and Jared Goff as the must-watch NFC game of Week 11 earns that distinction.
Keenum outdueled the surging sophomore Sunday in Minnesota, leading the Vikings to a 24–7 win against the Rams in a battle between two 7–2 powers. And much like last week, the Vikings and head coach Mike Zimmer will have a decision to make about who starts at quarterback on Thanksgiving against the Lions.
The seven-year veteran may have been playing in a revenge game against his former Rams, but more than anything he was playing for his starting job—which correctly seems like an absurd notion as he continues to lead an 8–2 team that hopes to not have to travel for this season’s Super Bowl.
Keenum went 27-of-38 in the air in a mostly conservative passing game that took few shots, as evidenced by his 280 passing yards that would have been far more anemic without Adam Thielen’s 65-yard touchdown that was mostly all yards-after-catch.
It was reported last week the Vikings would look to start Teddy Bridgewater this week, but then Keenum completed 72% of his passes and threw for four touchdowns against Washington, keeping him in the starter’s chair. Bridgewater has taken practice reps increase each week, and no one is hiding from the fact that Minnesota will pull the ripcord on Keenum at the first sight of danger.
Bridgewater is probably the better quarterback, but Keenum hasn’t done much to deserve the bench after going 7–2 as a starter this season and showing enough athleticism in Pat Shurmur’s offense that was desperately lacking when Sam Bradford was under center. There were no fatal flaws in Keenum’s game Sunday. He controlled the game, took care of the ball and proved to be difficult to get off the field.
At the end of the first quarter, Keenum made Robert Quinn whiff before ducking under Connor Barwin to deliver a 12-yard completion to Adam Thielen just as he took a shot by Michael Brockers. Later in the half he took off on a scramble for 14 yards (with an early slide) to get a first down.
Seven of the Vikings’ nine possessions went for at least seven plays, and four of them saw at least 11 plays. The other two possessions? One was a three-and-out to start the second half and the other was Thielen’s touchdown on the fifth play of the drive.
The Rams entered the game with a league-high 19 takeaways this season but had none Sunday—nor did Wade Phillips’s defense record a sack in a game that pushed L.A. from atop the NFC West standings to second place by virtue of a tiebreaker against the Seahawks (until Monday night’s game).
Goff didn’t sling it Sunday like he has this season, racking up just 225 passing yards after consecutive weeks over the 300-yard mark. But he didn’t play poorly by any stretch. Cooper Kupp, one of Goff’s favorite targets this season, let him down twice in the game. The first came at the one-yard line as Vikings safety Anthony Harris chopped the ball out of Kupp’s arms on a play that could have put Los Angeles up a touchdown in the first half. Then, down only 14–7 in the fourth quarter, Kupp dropped a third-and-10-conversion that forced the Rams to punt at midfield.
Now for the Vikings, a question of philosophy. Is Zimmer a man who believes in not upsetting the apple cart? If so, the answer on this short week is an obvious one in Case Keenum.