Skol Mary: Case Keenum Keeps Surprises Coming, Delivers a Miracle in Minnesota

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterJanuary 15, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 14:  Case Keenum #7 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates after defeating the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at U.S. Bank Stadium on January 14, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

It was the Miracle in Minnesota.      

Or maybe the Frozen Wonder? Case and the Ace? The Big Digg? Or as some were suggesting on Twitter: The Stone Skol Stunner?

One day, we'll settle on a nickname for this stunning moment. For now, let's just enjoy it. 

It happened after it seemed the out-of-nowhere star Case Keenum had finally imploded, beaten back by the legend Drew Brees. Keenum and the Vikings had 61 yards to go, 3rd-and-10, no timeouts and 10 seconds left.

We kept waiting for Keenum to collapse—both this game and throughout the year. Waiting and waiting and waiting...

He wasn't supposed to beat Chicago in October. He finished that game with a 110.3 passer rating. He was supposed to lose to Baltimore. He won. He wasn't supposed to beat Washington. His rating that game was 117.0. No way he was going to beat Atlanta. He did. His passer rating then? 120.4. It was 138.4 in a blowout win against Cincinnati.

And still, we kept waiting and waiting and waiting. 

And then finally, against a hot New Orleans team, while staring down Brees, Keenum looked like he had the sudden realization: that he was Case Keenum. He threw some horrible passes, lobbed them high for Vikings players to pick out of the sky.

For the moment, it looked like Keenum would take off his suit of armor and put on a clown suit. But then we saw something else. We saw Keenum come up big in one of the great miracle finishes ever.

This story is about the game itself—a wild, zany and beautiful piece of splendor. Games don't get more stunning, moments don't get bigger and plays don't get more historic.

When history looks back at this 29-24 Vikings divisional-round victory over the Saints, won on the last play with a Keenum 61-yard play to Stefon Diggs, it will be seen in the same way as moments like the Holy Roller, the Music City Miracle, The Catch, The Drive, the various Aaron Rodgers miracles...

The play will never be forgotten. Ever.

Long after the game, Diggs ran around the stadium, hugging fans and soaking it all in. He knew what this victory meant. It meant more than making the title game against Philadelphia. It showed how this moment was never too big for the Vikings and how they are now part of history.

"Damn that s--t feel good," Diggs said during a live interview with ESPN's Josina Anderson.

Jim Mone/Associated Press

Then he broke down into tears.

It was the kind of moment, and play, that reminds you why you love football.

The Vikings players were speechless. Totally speechless. They were like the rest of America watching the game.

Yes, this game was vital and gorgeous and historic.

But there's another angle to discuss, and that's Keenum.

His part in this should not be forgotten. After having faced doubts about his quarterbacking skills his entire career, he made the throw he needed to make when it mattered. In a game where overall he wasn't great, he still made enough plays to win, going 25-of-40 for 318 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

And he did what his team did: He fought to the end.

"It's one of the most special times of my life," he said after the game on Fox.

"I don't even know what happened. I have no words."

Join the rest of the world, Case.

Keenum may never have to buy a meal in the state of Minnesota again. His steaks are forever paid for.

On Sunday, he eased the pain of some of the worst moments in the history of the NFL postseason.

All the while, we were waiting for him to add to the pain. We waited for Keenum to implode, and he didn't. We thought the Vikings had lost. They won in the most improbable of ways.

Who knows if they can beat the Eagles in the NFC title game. We'll worry about that later. For now, enjoy the moment.

Can you Digg it?

    

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.

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