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24 Noviembre 2017, 06:10 | Gerardo Tarin
PHOTOS: Vikings at Lions (Thanksgiving Day Edition)
Detroit stumbled toward the end of last season after Stafford hurt a finger, losing its final three regular-season games and its postseason opener. That left them turning to quarterback Case Keenum to try to save their season.
But Stafford remained down on the ground for a while after that play. Of course, this was impossible on Thanksgiving. If Minnesota can prevail in this Thanksgiving afternoon tilt, they will effectively lock up the NFL North - but the Lions won the first matchup between these two teams earlier in the year, and that was on the road in Minneapolis.
But that is exactly what he has been. Minnesota rushed for 88 against Cleveland, 102 at Washington and a season-best 171 against the Los Angeles Rams last week.
Minnesota had considerable success on the ground in a season sweep of Detroit in 2015 (199 and 140 rushing yards) and hasn't rushed for more than 87 in five losses since 2014 (69 and 76 in 2014; 78 and 82 in 2016). Stafford has been on a roll, but I think the Vikings will slow him down, force him into a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes, and continue on the hot streak of their own. Keenum went 21 of 30, did not throw an interception and also ran for a TD.
The penalty nullified the touchdown and gave the Vikings a first down with 1:02 on the clock. I still hide the remote, surreptitiously retrieving it once to restart the Lions game so that it fills the full six hours that everyone is over. They are a half-game behind the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC's best record.
Detroit is lined up in a 4-3, with safety Tavon Wilson (No. 32) in the box as a linebacker. The Vikings and Johnathan were just a football team and a jackass. This is not like the AFC, which has become a two-team competition among the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"When I was walking back and the other tight end on their team was like, 'You see that yellow flag?' I was like, 'Oh man, '" Lawson said.
Keenum's comfort running the offense installed by coordinator Pat Shurmur - who should draw strong consideration for NFL Assistant Coach of the Year - was evident from the onset against Detroit. The Vikings marched 75 yards on four plays - runs of 46 yards by Latavius Murray, 16 by Jerick McKinnon, 11 by McKinnon and 2 by Murray. Additionally, Minnesota has all but locked up the award for most creative touchdown celebration. "It's the biggest role I've had in my four years".
But Keenum's unexpected - and consistent - excellence has complicated that story line. The quarterback pitches the ball to Cohen, who has acres in front of him. He was signed to a one-year, $2 million contract last March as an insurance policy the Vikings hoped wouldn't need to get cashed.
The biggest question still surrounding Keenum is whether his performance is sustainable. Zimmer is a very solid coach. Wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are dangerous.
However, the thought has to remain in the back of his mind: Is this for real? The blame can't be put on Forbath, even though he leads the league with most missed extra points (five).
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