EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Case Keenum’s got jokes. Or maybe he thinks everyone has Mike Zimmer’s crystal ball.
“I know this is what all you guys predicted back in the day was a [Nick] Foles versus Keenum NFC Championship,” Keenum quipped, “so good job to all you guys that predicted that.”
In all seriousness, the path it took for the Vikings and Eagles quarterbacks to get here makes this NFC Championship Game matchup all that more improbable. The two former Rams teammates have been linked throughout their careers, beginning with some tough times they shared in Los Angeles. Their combined record under then-head coach Jeff Fisher was 11-14. Under all other coaches, that number has jumped significantly to a collective 33-22 mark.
This will be the fifth time in the last 30 years that former QB teammates meet in the playoffs. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the home team has won in each of the last four instances. Keenum and Foles will be the first pair of starting quarterbacks to meet in the conference championship round after not being the Week 1 starter.
Here’s a look at Keenum’s journey from an undrafted free agent out of the University of Houston to the NFC Championship Game.
April 29, 2012: Keenum goes undrafted after posting several NCAA passing records, nine of which still stand today, at Houston. He signs with the Texans as an undrafted free agent.
Aug. 31, 2012: Keenum doesn’t make the 53-man roster after training camp, is cut by the Texans and signed to the practice squad one day later. The quarterback spends the entire 2012 season on practice squad and gets his first look at the postseason during Houston’s playoff run that year.
Oct. 20, 2013: Schaub gets injured in Week 6 and Yates throws a pick-six in relief to extend the Texans’ losing streak to five games. The following week, Texans coach Gary Kubiak announces Keenum would start his first NFL game at Kansas City, which results in a 17-16 loss. Keenum throws for 271 yards and the first touchdown pass of his career with a passer rating of 110.6, which was the highest by any Texans QB that season.
Aug. 31, 2014: The Texans waive Keenum to create a roster space for newly acquired quarterback Ryan Mallett.
Sept. 1, 2014: Keenum’s career with the Rams begins when he’s claimed off waivers.
Oct. 28, 2014: St. Louis cuts Keenum to make space on the 53-man roster for safety Mark Barron.
Oct. 29, 2014: Keenum gets signed to the Rams practice squad.
Dec. 15, 2014: The Texans, having lost Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tom Savage to injury and desperately seeking to find a quarterback late in the season with the playoffs still somewhat in reach, re-sign Keenum. Legend has it Keenum was deer hunting when he got a call from the Texans.
Dec. 21, 2014: Named the Texans’ starter over Thad Lewis, Keenum beats the Ravens 25-13 for the first NFL victory of his career after an 0-8 start.
March 11, 2015: The Texans trade Keenum back to the Rams for a seventh-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft. The Rams had recently acquired Nick Foles in a trade that sent former St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford to Philadelphia. Head coach Jeff Fisher announces Keenum would serve as Foles’ backup.
April 18, 2016: Keenum re-signs with the Rams, who had moved to Los Angeles three months earlier.
Sept. 12, 2016: Keenum starts L.A.’s season opener at San Francisco over No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff.
Nov. 20, 2016: After posting a 4-5 record as a starter, Keenum is benched in favor of Goff, who goes 0-7 to finish the season.
March 31, 2017: In arguably the biggest offseason move by any NFL team ahead of the 2017 season, Keenum signs a one-year contract with the Vikings worth $2 million. He’s brought in to compete for a backup role.
Sept. 17, 2017: Hours before the Vikings take the field in Pittsburgh, Keenum finds out he was starting in place of an injured Bradford. It was one of just three losses for Minnesota in the regular season. Keenum goes on to record an 11-3 record as a starter for the Vikings, leading the team on an eight-game winning streak from Weeks 5-13.
Jan. 14, 2018: Keenum makes his first career postseason start in a 29-24 divisional playoff victory over New Orleans.