Holding on to a 7-3 lead over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Minnesota Vikings started the stanza with a 2nd-and-8 from their own 38-yard line. Case Keenum went back to work, immediately finding Stefon Diggs for a 17-yard gain into Tampa Bay territory at the 45. A few plays later, Keenum found Adam Thielen on a nice toss and catch down to the Tampa Bay 11. Keenum found Diggs on a quick hitter down to the 4. A penalty on Tampa Bay gave the Vikings a fresh set of downs at the 2. On first-and-goal, Keenum found Jarius Wright for a 2-yard touchdown pass, and Kai Forbath added the extra point to extend the Minnesota lead to 14-3.
Tampa started their next drive at their own 10-yard line after a great special teams tackle by rookie Ben Gedeon. The Buccaneers did nothing with it, though, as Everson Griffen got to Jameis Winston and dragged him down for his fourth sack of the season to force a three-and-out. Marcus Sherels fair caught the punt from Bryan Anger at the Minnesota 43 to set up the Vikings’ next series.
Keenum picked up where he left off, firing a strike to Adam Thielen for a first down into Minnesota territory. It appeared they had another one on a nice run by Dalvin Cook, but a holding penalty on Nick Easton pushed the Vikings back. That was enough to stall the Vikings’ drive, and Ryan Quigley came in to punt it away. Bernard Reedy called for the fair catch at the Tampa Bay 14.
Winston and company wasted no time getting going on the next drive, as he found DeSean Jackson for a big gain of 32 yards, and a couple of plays later the Buccaneers were into Minnesota territory. Winston then tried to find Jackson in the end zone, but the much-maligned Trae Waynes stepped in front for the Vikings’ first interception of 2017. That thwarted a Tampa scoring opportunity and was a big play for the home team.
Case Keenum and company went back to work, with Dalvin Cook making a nice catch for a first down, and Keenum then finding Diggs for a big 47-yard gain down the heart of the field to the Tampa Bay 30 at the two-minute warning. Diggs finished things in style again, as he hauled in a 17-yard pass from Keenum for a touchdown to extend the Vikings’ lead. Forbath once again hit the extra point, and the lead extended to 21-3.
Tampa Bay got one last drive and pushed to near midfield, but were forced to punt it away, and that’s how we went into the locker room after a dominant first half by the Vikings, folks.
To say that Case Keenum looks much better this week is a huge understatement. He has completed 16-of-21 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns. He has been on fire for most of the afternoon and a far cry from what we saw last week in Pittsburgh.
The main beneficiaries of Keenum’s play thus far have been Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Diggs is already over the century mark, catching six balls for 108 yards and a touchdown. Thielen has four catches of his own for 84 yards. Dalvin Cook has chipped in with 34 yards on three receptions as well.
Speaking of Cook, he has gotten off to a decent start today. He has 40 yards on 14 carries and his first NFL touchdown. Keenum has one carry for four yards, and Latavius Murray has one carry for three yards.
Overall, a pretty dominant first half for the guys in purple. . .just like we all expected, right?
The Vikings have a 21-3 lead going into the second half at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Bucs will get the ball coming out of the locker room at halftime.