ATLANTA — Quarterback Case Keenum finished the Vikings’ 14-9 win against the Falcons with 15 consecutive completions — three to convert critical third downs.
He’ll also keep his starting job for next week against the Panthers, according to coach Mike Zimmer.
“He is making the plays he needs to make and not trying to overdo things,” Zimmer said of Keenum. “Sometimes, like in the Washington game, he tried to do things and make some plays he shouldn’t have really tried to make and he is staying within himself.”
Keenum completed all of his 13 attempts in the second half for a conservative Vikings’ passing game that didn’t see a receiver gain more than 20 yards until the final minutes ticked away. He finished throwing 25 of 30 for 227 yards and two touchdowns.
“We had a lot of great play calls,” Keenum said. “I thought Pat (Shurmur) did a great job of calling the game. Guys making plays and getting open. The whole game I thought they did a great job. We missed on a few early that could’ve led to some points, but we fought hard.”
Keenum was referring to two catches ruled out of bounds, one apiece by receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Both first-half grabs were ruled incomplete since each receiver had a toe or two out of bounds.
The Vikings emphasized the run, converting through the air afterward. Keenum found Jerick McKinnon for a 2-yard touchdown after four straight runs. Then Keenum executed the play-action and found a wide-open Kyle Rudolph for a 6-yard touchdown.
“Anytime you get that wide open, it seems like the ball is in the air forever,” Rudolph said. “But Case made a great throw and put it high where only I could catch it.”
Still red-hot in red zone
The Vikings have now scored touchdowns on 14 of the last 15 red-zone drives that didn’t end in a victory formation. That includes twice in Sunday’s win. McKinnon and Rudolph caught touchdown passes from inside the 10-yard line against the Falcons.
“Really the difference in the ballgame was probably the third-down conversions for both teams and we scored touchdowns in the red zone and they didn’t score any,” Zimmer said. “It was a good day.”
Special teams bounce back
Special teams had a bounce-back game against the Falcons. The Vikings’ first scoring drive was set up on a short field after punter Ryan Quigley pinned the Falcons at their own 2-yard line. Quigley averaged 45 yards on five punts, including two over 50 yards (50 and 51 yards). And the kicking operation was clean as Kai Forbath made both extra points.
Marcus Sherels had a 32-yard kick return spoiled after a couple offensive penalties stalled the Vikings’ ensuing drive.
The Vikings allowed more than 100 rushing yards for just the fourth time this season, but they limited the damage done by Devonta Freeman’s return. Freeman averaged more than six yards on 12 attempts, but the Falcons offense could only muster five first downs on the ground.