Usually, backup quarterbacks go out and have the best games of their career against the Minnesota Vikings. On Sunday afternoon at U.S. Bank Stadium against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Case Keenum decided that he wanted to do that for the purple instead.
Keenum had the best game of his NFL career, throwing for a career-high 369 yards, connecting on three touchdown passes, and overall just playing a brilliant game as the Vikings defeated the Bucs by a final score of 34-17.
The Vikings got on the board first in this one, scoring a touchdown on their opening drive for the first time this season. Dalvin Cook got his first NFL touchdown, going over from a yard out to make the score 7-0. The play was set up by a big 45-yard pass from Case Keenum to Adam Thielen to put the Vikings into Tampa Bay territory.
Tampa Bay answered on their opening drive, but could only manage a field goal, as Nick Folk connected from 40 yards out to cut the Minnesota lead to 7-3 midway through the first quarter.
The home team added to their lead in the second quarter, as Keenum found Jarius Wright for a 2-yard touchdown pass, and Forbath connected on the extra point to make the score 14-3. The Vikings got the benefit of a penalty on the Buccaneers on a third down deep in Tampa territory, and they took advantage with the touchdown pass.
Following an interception of Jameis Winston by Trae Waynes. . .yes, that Trae Waynes. . .the Vikings added to their lead on another impressive drive. Keenum marched the Vikings down the field, and hit Diggs for a big 47-yard gain down to the Tampa Bay 30. A few plays later, Keenum connected with Diggs again, this time on a 17-yard touchdown pass to extend the Vikings’ lead to 21-3.
Keenum and Diggs kept things going on the Vikings’ first drive of the second half. Keenum caught the Buccaneers’ defense with too many players on the field, and used the free play to find Diggs. Diggs slipped one tackle, and then strolled. . .quite literally (if you find the highlights) into the end zone for a 59-yard scoring reception. Forbath added another extra point, and the Vikings found themselves up 28-3.
Tampa finally got into the end zone on their next possession, taking advantage of a kickoff return that put them on Minnesota’s side of the field. Jameis Winston moved his team down the field, and found Cameron Brate for a 15-yard touchdown pass, with Folk’s extra point making it 28-10 midway through the third quarter.
Late in the third quarter, the Vikings got themselves back to a three-touchdown lead, as Kai Forbath connected on a 20-yard field goal to make it 31-10 in favor of the home team. The Buccaneers answered on the final play of the third quarter, as Winston found DeSean Jackson for a 25-yard touchdown, with the extra point making it 31-17 going into the final stanza.
The Vikings picked up a second interception of Winston early in the fourth quarter, as he threw one right into the midsection of Andrew Sendejo. Unfortunately, they could only turn it into a 37-yard Kai Forbath field goal, but that gave them a three-score lead again at 34-17.
Winston and the Buccaneers got the ball back, and once again matriculated the ball deep into Minnesota territory by hitting an array of targets. However, on a pass intended for Mike Evans, the ball was deflected into the air by Sendejo and into the arms of Harrison Smith for Winston’s third interception of the day. It was Smith’s first interception since 2015, and it pretty well iced things for the home team.
Keenum had an outstanding game from start to finish, as he finished his day with 25 completions on 33 attempts for 369 yards and three touchdowns. He definitely looked a lot more comfortable than he did in Week 2 against Pittsburgh.
Stefon Diggs had a huge game for the Vikings as well, as he caught eight passes for 173 yards and two scores. Adam Thielen got in on the fun as well, catching five passes for 98 yards. Dalvin Cook added nicely to the passing game, as he had five catches for 72 yards. C.J. Ham had a reception for 12 yards, and Jarius Wright had two grabs for nine yards and a score. Kyle Rudolph (4 yards) and Laquon Treadwell (2 yards) each had a reception, while Jerick McKinnon had two receptions for a cumulative loss of one yard.
Speaking of Dalvin Cook, he had a nice game rushing the ball as well, as he carried the rock 27 times for 97 yards and a touchdown. He now holds the Vikings’ team record for rushing yards in his first three games, surpassing Adrian Peterson’s record in that category. Keenum scrambled for 19 yards on five carries.
The Vikings increase their record to 2-1, and will stay at home next weekend to play their first NFC North game against the Detroit Lions. The Buccaneers fall to 1-1 and will host the New York Giants in Tampa next week.
Minnesota gets a huge win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 34-17 in Week 3 NFL action. Thanks to everyone that got their coverage of this week’s action right here at The Daily Norseman!