Keenum’s stock rises

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Case Keenum has played quarterback for three NFL teams and doesn’t have especially gaudy career statistics.

Nonetheless Keenum has led Minnesota to the NFC North title and the Vikings beat up Green Bay 16-0 last Saturday at Lambeau Field.

Minnesota (12-3 and 236 total net yards) delivered its first shutout since 1993 and first blanking of the Packers since 1971.

Keenum, who has 45 scoring passes, 27 interceptions and 8,582 yards in his career, came into the league in 2012 undrafted after starring at the University of Houston where he set the Football Bowl Subdivision Division I mark for passing yards (19,217) and touchdown passes (155).

Keenum is the third-stringer and undersized at 6-feet-1, but weighs 215 pounds.

Against the Packers, Keenum passed for 139 yards and hit 14 of 25 without a pick.

One who thinks highly of Keenum is Tony Gonzalez, who works for Fox Sports as a studio host.

“Right now he’s playing outstanding football,’’ said Gonzalez, who holds the NFL record for most receiving yards and catches for a tight end. “And I said it a couple of weeks ago. He’s like that satellite that’s going around the moon and he’s got to come back, but he’s not coming back. He’s a franchise quarterback and they got a really good football team. This is a team that could play in the Super Bowl.’’

When Keenum found wide receiver Stefon Diggs (60 yards on five catches) with a four-yard toss and 56 seconds left in the first quarter, the Vikings forged a 10-0 advantage.

Over 13 games and a 10-3 won-loss record, Keenum has thrown for 3,358 yards with 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

The Packers (7-8 and 239 total yards) were eliminated from the postseason and didn’t have Super Bowl-winning quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has missed a large portion of the season after suffering a broken collarbone on October 15 in a 23-10 loss against the host Vikings when one-time UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr tackled him and then landed on him.

Also missing was All-Pro linebacker and former USC standout Clay Matthews, also a Super Bowl champ and wide receiver Davante Adams, who suffered a concussion.

The Vikings, who claimed the division banner for the second time in three years, moved in front 3-0 on Kai Forbath’s 49-yard field goal with 8:28 left in the initial frame.

Minnesota extended its advantage to 13-0 on Forbath’s 20-yard field goal with 1:20 showing in the third quarter and 16-0 on a 27-yarder with 2:56 left in the fourth period.

Rick Assad has written about sports for the Pasadena Star-News and Los Angeles Times. Contact him at yankeespride55@gmail.com.

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The Sports Department Rick Assad has written about sports for the Pasadena Star-News and Los Angeles Times. Contact him at richsports5@sbcglobal.net.

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