Case Keenum, Vikings Top Lions on Thanksgiving; Matthew Stafford Avoids Injury

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistNovember 23, 2017

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 23: Quarterback Case Keenum #7 of the Minnesota Vikings runs with the ball for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the first half at Ford Field on November 23, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Case Keenum and the Minnesota Vikings will enjoy a commanding NFC North lead during their Thanksgiving dinner following Thursday's 30-23 victory over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.

Minnesota extended its winning streak to seven and is 9-2 overall, well ahead of the 6-5 Lions with only five games remaining in the season. Detroit's three-game winning streak came to an end Thursday, but it is still in the middle of the NFC wild-card race.

Detroit was threatening to become the first team in league history to overcome a 17-point deficit on Thanksgiving, per the Fox broadcast, when it trimmed a 27-10 deficit to just 27-23 in the fourth quarter. However, a Xavier Rhodes interception with less than three minutes remaining and Detroit's jumping offside that nullified a blocked Kai Forbath field goal clinched the win for the Vikings.

The pick halted a potential game-tying drive and what was a dramatic comeback effort from Matthew Stafford and the Lions.

Two field goals put them within striking distance before Marvin Jones Jr. turned heads with a terrific catch in double coverage for a 43-yard touchdown on a play that saw Stafford limp off after his ankle was rolled up on.

He remained in the contest, finishing with 250 passing yards and two touchdowns, both of which went to Jones. The explosive receiver tallied six catches for 109 yards and the two scores, but a Minnesota defense that entered Thursday fourth in the league in points allowed per game came through with the contest hanging in the balance after Keenum laid the groundwork.

Keenum, like Stafford, threw both of his touchdowns to the same receiver. Tight end Kyle Rudolph was the beneficiary, with his first score capping a 14-play, 80-yard drive on Minnesota's first possession and the second one going for 22 yards and opening a three-score lead in the first half.

Keenum completed 21 of his 30 pass attempts for 282 yards and also added a rushing touchdown on a read-option keeper on the Vikings' second possession.

As a result, Fox deemed him the player of the game and awarded him with a silver-encrusted football in the postgame.

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reflected on Keenum's turnaround this season for the red-hot Vikings:

It wasn't just the Keenum and Rudolph (four catches for 63 yards) show, as talented pass-catchers Adam Thielen (eight catches for 89 yards) and Stefon Diggs (five catches for 66 yards) helped establish Minnesota's early lead.

Were it not for Stafford finding Jones for a touchdown in the final minute of the first half and a blocked Forbath field goal and extra point, Keenum likely would have put the Lions away by halftime.

He also received a boost from the rushing attack, as Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon combined for four carries and 75 yards on the first drive of the second half with Murray finding the end zone. It was Minnesota's last touchdown of the contest and provided the winning margin after Detroit's failed comeback attempt.

Murray finished with 84 yards and the touchdown on 20 carries, while McKinnon featured in the aerial attack with a 31-yard reception and 13 carries for 23 yards.

Minnesota will now take its winning streak and turn its attention toward a potential playoff preview against the Atlanta Falcons, while the Lions will face an AFC playoff contender in the Baltimore Ravens.

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