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Vikings' Keenum expects team to 'reload' during bye week

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum celebrates during the fourth quarter Sunday, Dec. 31, against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. Brace Hemmelgarn / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS—The Minnesota Vikings will have a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs, but quarterback Case Keenum isn't planning much relaxing.

Over the past two games, Minnesota's offense has been less fluid. In Sunday's 23-10 victory over Chicago at U.S. Bank Stadium, Keenum completed 21 of 29 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown but didn't really stretch the field.

"Every position group is hungry and knows that we can play better," Keenum said about the offense. "We're going to the grindstone, take a week to recover. It's not an off week, it's a bye week, and that means we're going to reload and not just rest."

The Vikings are expected to practice twice during the bye week before learning their foe next weekend for a divisional playoff game Jan. 13 or 14 at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Keenum had an average gain per pass attempt of 6.5 yards Sunday, below his season average of 7.7 entering the game. He averaged 9.0 yards per completion, below his previous average of 11.0.

"He was a little up and down," coach Mike Zimmer said. "There were some things he missed. He made some good throws and big plays. I think the throw to (Stefon) Diggs was a heck of a throw for the touchdown."

Keenum threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Diggs late in the third quarter to give the Vikings a comfortable 23-7 lead.

Keenum was sacked twice and under pressure on a number of occasions. Zimmer said the Vikings need to clean that up.

Keenum was coming off a sub-par outing the previous week, when he completed just 14 of 25 passes for a season-low 139 yards at Green Bay. That game, though, was played on a slippery surface at Lambeau Field, and the temperature at kickoff was 10 degrees.

Overall, it's hard to complain much about the season Keenum had. He went 11-3 as a starter for the Vikings (13-3), who had their best record since the 1998 team went 15-1.

"He's had a great year," Zimmer said. "I thought he's handled himself well all year long. I expect it to be the same way as we move forward here into the divisional round."

Keenum didn't want to evaluate his regular season just yet, but didn't deny it went well. He entered the year with a 9-15 career record as an NFL starter, and never previously had started more than nine games in a season.

"I'm going to wait until after the year to put everything in perspective," he said. "Definitely right now, enjoying this win, enjoying the season, 13-3 has a nice ring to it. At the same time, we have a lot ahead of us and we're really excited about what's coming up."

The St. Paul Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service

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