Murray, Vikings trample Rams 24-7 in division leader matchup
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Case Keenum sure took it to his old team.
He gave the Minnesota Vikings another reminder of his ability for good measure, with his status as the starting quarterback still not secure.
Latavius Murray rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns , Adam Thielen turned a short catch into a 65-yard score and the Vikings smothered the NFL’s highest-scoring offense in a 24-7 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
Keenum completed 27 of 38 passes for 280 yards and no turnovers against the team that benched him last season for No. 1 overall draft pick Jared Goff. He guided the Vikings (8-2) to their sixth straight victory in a matchup of division leaders.
“I’m not at my best if I’m using a percentage of my mind in worry about other things,” he said, “so I shut that out and I come out to play.”
For another week, Keenum kept the Teddy Bridgewater talk on the backburner.
“It’s going to be hard to yank him out of there right now,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “I still have really high hopes for Teddy, and a lot of things happen throughout the course of the season, so we’ll just see how it goes.”
Minnesota’s defense started the second half by forcing four punts in a row by the Rams (7-3), whose four-game winning streak in which they scored 144 points was finished in lopsided fashion. The Rams entered the week with a league-best third-down conversion rate of 46.7 percent. They were just 3 for 11 against the Vikings.
“Football is really simple: You line up the man in front of you. You beat him,” said Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen, who returned from a foot injury, but had his eight-game sack streak stopped.
The Los Angeles defense was trampled in the second half for 288 yards, and Keenum went without a sack for the sixth game this season. Thielen handed him the longest touchdown pass of his career, by turning a simple curl route early in the fourth quarter into a game-breaking score after spinning past Rams cornerback Dominique Hatfield. Injuries took two of their top three cornerbacks out of the game for the second half.
“We talk about it every single week that you’ve got to be ready to go, because it is a very humbling league,” Rams coach Sean McVay said, “and I felt we got humbled today by a very good team.”
Thielen finished with 123 yards on six receptions, giving him 916 yards this season. The only player in Vikings history to reach 900 yards receiving by the 10-game mark was Randy Moss, who did it in 2000 and 2003.
Thielen’s connection with Keenum has been especially strong, with Keenum continually finding Thielen open down the field even with the pressure on .
“We get the same Case every week: a guy who just prepares and busts his tail and is in there in the quarterback room before everybody else is probably waking up,” Thielen said. “Just the way he prepares, it’s pretty inspiring.”
Vikings safety Anthony Harris, starting for the injured Andrew Sendejo, single-handedly turned the momentum of the game by stripping the ball from Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp at the 1-yard line and recovering the fumble with 4:03 remaining in the second quarter. The game was tied 7-all at the time. Harris led the Vikings with seven tackles and broke up a pass, too.
Goff and the Rams stretched their streak of scoring on their first drive to five straight games, with a nine-play, 75-yard march that Todd Gurley capped with a short up-the-gut touchdown run.
With the crowd noise reverberating off U.S. Bank Stadium’s translucent roof, Goff had to walk back and forth to the wide receivers to call the plays amid the din to keep McVay’s fast-paced, no-huddle scheme going. It was stuck in neutral after that opening possession.
Goff went 22 for 37 for 225 yards and no turnovers, taking one sack. After the first drive, Gurley ran the ball 11 more times for a net of 17 yards.
“Seeing their defense and all the different looks they do and all the talent they have, especially up front with the pass rush, makes that team special,” Goff said.
Special enough, perhaps, to play deep into the postseason.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to see these guys again,” Gurley said.
Rams: CB Kayvon Webster (concussion) didn’t play after halftime. ... Nickell Robey-Coleman, the nickel CB, hurt his thigh in the second quarter and did not return.
Vikings: RT Mike Remmers (concussion) sat out for the second straight game and was replaced by Rashod Hill, who left in the fourth quarter with a leg injury. ... DE Brian Robison (back) was inactive for the first time since Dec. 23, 2012, a streak of 76 straight games including playoffs.
Rams: Host New Orleans next Sunday, their second consecutive matchup with an NFC division leader.
Vikings: Visit Detroit this Thursday, their second straight Thanksgiving Day game against the Lions, who won 14-7 at Minnesota on Oct. 1.