Summer 2024

QB Case Keenum helps lift Texans to OT win: 'I just have to thank God'

It’s all come full circle for Houston Texans quarterback Case Keenum.

The 35-year-old veteran is now back with the NFL team that first gave him a shot as an undrafted free agent in 2012, as he started Sunday and led the Texans to a crucial overtime win, 19-16, in Tennessee and without superstar rookie C.J. Stroud.

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Keenum helped turn a 13-0 second-quarter deficit into a victory by completing 23 of 36 passes for 229 yards, one interception and one touchdown on a 3-yard dart to receiver Noah Brown, the game-tying score with 3:03 left on the clock.

The Texans (8-6) are one of seven AFC teams who have between six and eight wins and are locked in a competition for the conference’s final two wild-card playoff spots. Despite the win, due to tiebreakers, Houston would be the first team left out of the playoffs, just behind the Indianapolis Colts, a team the Texans play in Week 18.

With only three games remaining, a loss Sunday would have dealt a massive blow to Houston’s postseason hopes.

“I just have to thank God for putting me right here in this spot with this team,” Keenum said in an on-field interview following the victory. “It’s such an incredible opportunity. I’m loving every minute of it.”

He elaborated in his postgame press conference.

“Wearing the name of ‘Houston’ on the front of my jersey, which I’ve done for a long time, and to get to do it again and represent for our city, for our team, it means a lot. It really does,” he said. “… I’m built for this. I’ve been in a lot of situations, I’ve been in a lot of systems, been in a lot of different games. And God’s made me who I am for this. For moments like this.”

Keenum was born and raised in Texas, attending Wylie High School in Abilene before starring for the Houston Cougars from 2007-2011. However, his impressive collegiate stats and accolades (two-time Sammy Baugh Trophy winner, 2009 first-team All-American) didn’t translate into being a draft pick, perhaps because of a 2010 ACL tear in his right knee.

After signing with the Texans following the 2012 draft, Keenum spent his entire rookie season on Houston’s practice squad. He debuted the following season, starting eight games in the place of injured starter Matt Schaub.

Keenum has bounced around the NFL for the past decade, making eight different stops for seven different franchises along the way. Sunday marked Keenum’s first start since Week 18 of the 2021-22 season when he was with the Cleveland Browns.

Wherever he’s been, Keenum has been vocal about his faith in Christ.

“You just realize that football is fickle; it’s not going to be there all the time,” Keenum told the Pioneer Press in September 2017 while with the Minnesota Vikings. “Just getting my priorities straight and knowing the true reason I play the game, and that’s to give glory to God. That’s something I take pride in. It’s why I do what I do.

“That’s why I became a Christian — being around Christian athletes through FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes). I’m not playing for the name on the back of my jersey, I’m playing to glorify God. He’s given me talents, and I’m trying to maximize those talents however I can.”

Later that season, Keenum and the Vikings found themselves in a divisional playoff game against the New Orleans Saints. Down by one point on the Saints’ 39-yard line with only 10 seconds to play, Keenum connected on a deep pass to receiver Stefon Diggs, who scampered into the end zone to win the game in a play dubbed the “Minneapolis Miracle.”

Immediately following the play that will forever live in NFL lore, Keenum stayed true to his quote from earlier in the season about playing for the glory of God.

“It’s probably going to go down as the third best moment of my life behind giving my life to Jesus Christ, marrying my wife and this one,” an ecstatic Keenum said in an interview with FOX Sports.

Keenum lists the Bible verse Isaiah 40:31 in his X bio, and he’s been featured on an episode of the “Sports Spectrum Football Special” as well as on Sports Spectrum’s “Football Sunday 2019.” He also supported Compassion International, an organization dedicated to releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name, during the NFL’s recent “My Cause My Cleats” campaign. He did so in partnership with Atlanta Falcons punter Bradley Pinion.

Keenum has even written a faith-based book, “Playing for More: Trust Beyond What You Can See,” in 2018 while with the Denver Broncos. He shared stories of how he’s seen God’s faithfulness.

“It’s been neat to see what God has done in my life,” Keenum told Sports Spectrum at the time. “We want this book to be about glorifying God and ultimately hopefully pointing people to Christ. If it blesses somebody, encourages somebody, challenges somebody from the things that I’ve messed up, the things that I’ve done well, that’s kind of what I want people to take away.

“It’s my story; God has intricately placed every tiny detail with masterful perfection. We wanted God to be glorified. It’s not my story. It’s God’s story told through me.”

On the football field, Keenum will likely return to his backup role with the Texans once Stroud clears the concussion protocol, seeking to glorify God by supporting his team’s valuable rookie. Up next for Houston in its playoff push is a home game against the Cleveland Browns (9-5) on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

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