Culture / Sporting Life

Case Keenum’s Miracle Belief, Game-Winning Walk-Off Should Haunt Bill O’Brien and His New GM: UH Icon Has Always Been Super Bowl Worthy

BY // 01.14.18

Needing a miracle, Case Keenum creates one. He throws a perfect deep ball, gives Stefon Diggs a chance to make a play and New Orleans Saints rookie safety Marcus Williams a chance to make a haunting mistake.

Miracles don’t happen without belief — and Keenum’s made a career out of believing. This isn’t a reflection on his Christian faith, as much as a huge part of him that is. It’s about his determination in the face of the doubters. No matter how many times he was downgraded, discounted and dismissed, Case Keenum always believed he could do great things on the football field.

Somehow, someway.

On a late Sunday afternoon in Minneapolis, he seizes the fourth quarter of an NFL playoff game, lifting one of pro football’s most cursed franchises to a win that almost nobody can believe. How about a walk-off 61-yard touchdown pass? How about a dime from the sky, right into Stefon Diggs’ hands?

The last throw is the climatic punctuation point on a fourth quarter that shows Casey Austin Keenum is anything but afraid of the big stage. Keenum completes three passes of more than 20 yards in the final quarter with his team’s entire season on the line. Not to mention a 19-yarder that sets the Vikings up for that 61-yard walkoff. With the pressure at its most intense, Keenum does not seize up.

He exhales — and grabs the moment. Vikings 29, Saints 24.

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And no one who really watched him rewrite the NCAA record book at the University of Houston is the least bit surprised. No one who truly paid attention to what he actually did  while playing for a Texans franchise in disarray is shocked. Anyone who bothered to give Keenum a real chance — rather than stick to the preconceived narratives of Texans coach Bill O’Brien and the Syracuse mafia — that dominates Houston sports radio, knows the real deal.

Case Keenum’s always made plays. That’s what he does. That’s who he is as a quarterback.

Yes, the play the Vikings called for the game winner is named Seven Heaven. But this isn’t about divine intervention as much as it’s about divine belief in oneself. And one pretty divine throw.

There are other quarterbacks who’ve been dismissed by the NFL’s flawed rigid group think who’ve deserved a chance — and could have done something with it. The difference is that Keenum just wouldn’t stop coming. He just wouldn’t waver. When another team, another overrated coach, told him no, he just kept looking for another way.

O’Brien should be mortified at how he treated Keenum, cutting him in favor of Ryan Mallett one summer, dumping him for a seventh round draft pick the next even after he’d come out a deer blind and absolutely saved the coach’s first season in Houston. Do you think the Texans completely fall apart this season when Deshaun Watson gets hurt if Keenum is the backup instead of Tom Savage? Of course not.

But there are little consequences on Kirby. O’Brien gets a contract extension and the chance to handpick his general manager. Speaking of that GM, Brian Gaine was a key part of the Texans front office during those Keenum dumps, seemingly on board with them. Makes you feel great about the Texans future, no?

Keenum? He’ll just play for a spot in the Super Bowl next Sunday evening — a game the Texans seem light years away from. Houston’s own icon is on the brink of the world’s biggest game.

Case Keenum’s always made plays. That’s what he does. That’s who he is as a quarterback.

Keenum will not gloat. Even if his loved ones want him to a little. That’s not in his nature. He doesn’t carry a grudge against his disbelievers. He has more important things to do.

Like make the throws in the clutch that many golden boy quarterbacks cannot.

“He showed some nerves of steel there,” Fox’s Troy Aikman gushes after Keenum’s first 20-plus yard completion of the fourth quarter. Little did Aikman know Keenum was only getting started.

Somehow, someway.

Case Keenum’s Third Down Mastery

The UH icon finishes 9 for 12 on third down passing, including that 61-yard walk-off game-winner. Just like he used to do on Cullen Boulevard. Just like he did against Bill Belichick’s powerhouse Patriots in his first year starting with the Texans. Keenum completed four passes of more than 25 yards as he somehow kept a hapless, beat up Texans team within three points of New England that day.

Case Keenum has always made plays whenever he’s been given a real chance.

His Houston radio haters are only fooling themselves (and their favorite sycophants) when they arrogantly insist that no one could have seen this coming, that no one could have predicted that Keenum would turn into an impact NFL quarterback.

Are you kidding? Case Keenum’s been this guy his entire life. And anyone who watched him with unbiased eyes knew it.

This isn’t about a miracle. It’s about one man’s unshakeable belief.

“Yeah man, I can’t even explain it, man,” Keenum tells Fox’s Chris Myers in an on-field interview. “We were in desperate…

“That’s special, man.”

Keenum leads the Vikings on two scoring drives in the last two minutes of an NFL playoff game, hits huge throws in both of them. His sideline pass to Adam Thielen that sets up the field goal that first gives Minnesota back the lead is a thing of beauty. If this is a miracle, it’s a self-made one.

Somehow, someway. That is Case Keenum. It always has been.

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