Vikings Buccaneers
image courtesy of Vikings.com

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum had squared off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers twice in his career before Sunday’s matchup.

He won both of those matchups as a member of the St. Louis — er, Los Angeles — Rams, completing 28 of 43 passes for 424 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.

Keenum picked up where he left off in Minnesota’s 34-17 Week 3 win over Tampa Bay. He torched Tampa Bay’s depleted defense at all levels of the field, specifically both Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen on an array of deep throws.

He finished with 25 completions on 33 attempts for 369 yards and three touchdowns. Just an aerial assault of epic proportions that nobody expected — a best-Case scenario, if you will.

It’s night and day in comparison to his performance against Pittsburgh. On Sunday against the Bucs, he was poised in the pocket, took shots down the field and stepped up in the pocket to avoid pressure — none of which he did Week 2.

Diggs was Keenum’s most prolific receiver, accumulating 173 yards on eight receptions on the day including this 59-yard touchdown. Keenum put the corner route ball on the money and Diggs did the rest.

Meanwhile, Dalvin Cook continues to shine as he works to fill in the giant shoes left at the running back position by Adrian Peterson. He collected 97 hard-fought yards on 27 carries and his first career NFL touchdown on the ground and 72 receiving yards on five catches. His decisiveness and versatility were key missing elements to the Vikings offense in 2016.

Defensively, the Vikings broke their two-game turnover-less streak by forcing quarterback Jameis Winston into three interceptions. Let the record show that Trae Waynes tallied the first Vikings takeaway of the 2017 season

Let the record show that Trae Waynes tallied the first Vikings takeaway of the 2017 season.

Everson Griffen had another strong performance putting constant pressure on Winston and recording yet another sack to make four for the season. Andrew Sendejo and Harrison Smith each recorded interceptions en route to strong performances as well.

Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans was thoroughly contained by Xavier Rhodes and Co. While he did haul in seven catches, they only went for 67 yards. Rhodes has now held Michael Thomas, Antonio Brown and Mike Evans in check in consecutive weeks.

Additionally, Minnesota’s rushing defense backed up its stellar performance in Weeks 1 and 2 with another stout showing on Sunday. Tampa Bay’s leading rusher, Jacquizz Rodgers, had 15 yards on 5 carries. The Buccaneers’ as a whole amassed a whopping 26 yards on nine carries.

After Week 3, the Vikings have now convincingly beaten two NFC South opponents at home and have been wiped out on the road against a 2016 AFC Championship team. Additionally, Keenum’s stint as a Vikings starting quarterback has included two starts on the opposite end of the spectrum — quite bad against Pittsburgh, and quite good against Tampa Bay.

The outlook for both the short-term and long-term future remains cloudy. In fact, nobody even knows who will start at quarterback next week. But there are a few things taking place each week that we can count on.

The Vikings defense will contain star players. For example, see Michael Thomas, Antonio Brown, LeVeon Bell and Mike Evans this season against the Vikings. The Vikings defense will slow down the opposing rushing attack. Dalvin Cook will be efficient with his touches both on the ground and as a receiver.

Mike Zimmer’s defense will slow down the opposing rushing attack. The Vikings have yet to allow four yards per carry to a team in three games.

Dalvin Cook will be efficient with his touches both on the ground and as a receiver. He now has more rushing yards in his first three games than Adrian Peterson did, on fewer carries.

And lastly, Case Keenum will pick apart the Buccaneers in the event of a playoff rematch.

More Notes
  • Nick Easton’s struggles continue at left guard. He has yet to consistently establish leverage and struggles when asked to block in space. The Alex Boone cut looks like a mistake at this point in time.
  • However, credit must be given to the entire offensive line for not allowing a sack. On nearly every Keenum dropback, there was a pocket to work with. That’s about all you can ask for.
  • Kai Forbath made all of his kicks today, INCLUDING extra points! Amazing!
  • Despite the interception, Waynes’ struggles continued again on Sunday. He was beaten on multiple in-breaking routes and was even a step behind DeSean Jackson on his interception, but was bailed out by a bad Winston throw.
  • It appears as if Diggs and Thielen will continue to receive a heavy share of the targets moving forward, regardless of who is playing quarterback. And that’s just fine with me.
  • Bring on the Lions.