That has been the big storyline for the primetime Thursday Night Football game.
Redskins starting QB Case Keenum is returning to U.S. Bank Stadium to face his former team as well. Just two seasons ago, Keenum led the Vikings to the NFC Championship game after a magical 2017 campaign that also produced one of the NFL’s most storied playoff moments called the “Minnesota Miracle.”
Keenum threw a desperation 27-yard pass to wideout Stefon Diggs near the sidelines. Diggs evaded a New Orleans Saints defender, however, and scored from 61 yards out. The game was the first in NFL playoff history to end in a touchdown as time expired.
While speaking to the media from the INOVA Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park, the former University of Houston star didn’t want to talk about the play too much considering the quick turnaround time from when the team’s play this week.
“No. On short weeks when we’re playing Thursday night, there’s not enough time to reminisce,” Keenum said. “It’s a special time, it’s a special play, a special group of guys, something I’ll remember forever, but not necessarily this week.”
Washington is faced with a daunting task and enter the game as 16 point underdogs. The Burgundy and Gold will be looking to pick up their second straight road win and their first win against an NFC opponent this season.
The Vikings and Cousins present a high powered offense thanks in part to league-leading rusher, Dalvin Cook (725 yards). The Vikings defense, however, is tied for sixth in the NFL in yards allowed per game at 327.9.
Keenum spoke about the Vikings defense and understands that the Redskins offense which has struggled in the passing game will have their hands full in the nationally televised game.
“They’re good, they’re really good,” Keenum said. “Watching it sitting there, it’s the same defense when I was there, all the same guys and they’re all really, really talented players. So, they’ve been running that system for a while, so they know exactly where to be and when to be and they can disguise and fool with your eyes a bunch. That, plus the noise – it’s a tough place to play. So, we’ve got to be on our P’s and Q’s.”
Keenum has had an up and down start to his first season in Washington. Although he started the season with two 300-yard passing performances in the Redskins first three outings, Keenum was benched in the Redskins loss to the New York Giants and the following week against the New England Patriots. When the Redskins made the move to hire Bill Callahan as interim coach Keenum was allowed to start again. If Keenum needs extra motivation to play better against his former Viking teammates, he didn’t let on to that in his press conference.
“I mean, there’s really no need to get more amped for any game in this league, especially when you’re playing a team like this with a great defense,” Keenum said. “We’ve got to give it everything we’ve got no matter what. The fact is my old team – I’ve played long enough to where I feel like if I keep going like I’m going I might play against my old team every week. It’s adding up now, so it’s just a normal game for me.”
Cousins had a nice run as a Redskins signal-caller from 2012 – 2017. During his time in DC, the former Michigan State standout threw for over 4,000 yards in a season on three different occasions, made the Pro Bowl, and led the Redskins to an NFC East division title in 2015.
Cousins kept a similar approach to Keenum’s for Thursday’s game and was very complimentary of his time in Washington and the Redskins as an organization.
“When I think of my time in Washington, I just think of the word gratitude,” Cousins said. “I’m so grateful that I was drafted by them. When 31 other teams hadn’t picked me, the Redskins picked me.
“There are some special coaches and teammates and people in that organization that I’ll relate to the rest of my life,” he said. When football’s long over, I’ll still be calling them and texting them.”
Deep down there is no doubt that both quarterbacks would like nothing more than to defeat the organizations that moved on from them without offering them long term contracts. Thursday’s game will have a lot of personal incentives on the line.