After Keenum made a joke about where he should stand, closer to the group of cameras in the back of the room instead of at the podium, the quarterback said he hadn’t lost his sense of humor.
“You have to make fun of yourself at times, you know? You know what I’m talking about,” Keenum said, directed at a nearby reporter. “Yeah, you look like you do.”
Another reporter dubbed it the Case Keenum Comedy Hour.
“Hey, I’m in a good mood, man,” the quarterback replied. “You caught me at the right time.”
When he wasn’t immediately presented with questions, Keenum joked that he was done with the question-and-answer session.
“Cool,” he said. “Is that it?”
It was that kind of day for Keenum, who returned to make his second start for the Rams after missing two games due to a concussion. The Rams lost his first start, 16-13 to the Baltimore Ravens. This time, he helped lead his team to a much-needed win.
“It’s awesome,” Keenum said. “I told somebody earlier, I think it was a couple years ago I got a text from John Lackey, the pitcher, was a pitcher from the Cardinals. He’s an Abilene [Texas] guy. We both grew up there. We were struggling a little bit and he said, those heartbreakers, those tough ones that we’ve had some heartbreakers, we’ve had some tough ones, we’ve gone on a little streak of not being successful, that’s what makes winning just feel so good. It may not have been pretty at times, but coming into that locker room, any winning locker room, is pretty awesome.”
The Rams didn’t win because of Keenum — another strong performance from rookie running back Todd Gurley and a stingy defensive effort led the way — but the quarterback helped the cause.
He completed 14 of 22 passes for 124 yards, with one interception and a QB rating of 59.7.
“I thought Case did a nice job with the game,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. “Stayed in some plays, made some good throws. Handled the run game really well — the checks and things like that — and then of course we stuck with it.”
Keenum’s best moment may have come during a series the bridged the third and fourth quarters.
The Rams took a 14-7 lead on Gurley’s first touchdown run and just had a Tavon Austin punt return touchdown called back because of a holding penalty.
On first down at his own 9-yard line, Keenum lobbed a pass down the right sideline that Kenny Britt hauled in for a 25-yard gain, over a defender, before falling out of bounds.
Gurley ran for 25 yards on the next play. Later in the drive, Keenum hit Wes Welker for 11 yards and then Britt for 10 more on back-to-back plays.
When Gurley scored on a 15-yard scamper, it capped off a seven-play, 91-yard drive and gave the Rams a 21-7 lead.
Keenum was asked afterward about the mood in the huddle after the Austin punt return touchdown was called back.
“Obviously everybody was upset but I thought, heck, screw it, let’s go, let’s go 90 yards or whatever it is,” he said. “The offensive line did a great job of holding their water. We hard-counted them and Kenny, I just kind of threw up a floater. It was a bad enough ball where the defender, I don’t know, he kind of slipped in behind him there and Kenny did a great job of doing that.
“And I threw it this time, instead of letting some guy dribble my head off the turf like I did the last time that happened. Then Todd went off and we were able to make some big plays and score. You could feel the momentum changing in the huddle.”
Keenum’s comment in reference to the hit that caused his concussion in Baltimore, a play where he took a needless hit after a defender jumped offsides rather than throwing the ball downfield on a free play. The quarterback showed he learned his lesson.
Now the Rams are 5-8 with three games remaining, likely out of playoff contention but still trying to finish 2015 on a positive note. Next up for Keenum and his teammates is a short week of preparation before playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night.
“I played on Thursday, I guess, two years ago,” he said. “It’s been awhile. It’s fast. Obviously everybody’s body is going to beat up tonight and tomorrow. Tomorrow is going to be like Thursday for us on a regular week. You may not get as many physical reps, but the mental reps have got to be there, watching film and being prepared. I like it. You don’t have time to overthink yourself. You go out there and put in a game plan and go play football.”