Texans' Keenum impresses in NFL debut

Texans' Keenum impresses in NFL debut
October 20, 2013, 8:45 pm
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Texans teammates on Case Keenum's debut

The Texans didn’t win on Sunday. But it wasn't Case Keenum's fault.

Making his first-career NFL start, Keenum played pretty well but the Texans still dropped their fifth straight game, this time losing 17-16 to the Chiefs in Kansas City.

“I'm really disappointed. I'm really frustrated,” Keenum said. “I thought our team played really, really hard there towards the end and really put the offense and put me in position to go down and win the game and we didn't. I didn't make the plays there at the end.”

With Matt Schaub out with a leg injury, Keenum completed 15 of 25 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown. He had a passer rating of 110.6. And head coach Gary Kubiak might have a tough decision when he has to figure out who will start against the Colts after the bye week.

“He played well. He has a bright future,” running back Arian Foster said. “He's young but I think he played extremely well. Who knows what's going to happen going forward but he definitely showed his stuff out there.”

Keenum’s passer rating of 110.6 is the highest mark for a Texan this season, topping Schaub’s 110.0 in the opener. Keenum is the first quarterback not named Schaub to have a passer rating over 110 for the Texans since 2011, when Matt Leinart did it in his only start as a Texan. But Leinart threw for just 57 yards in that game. Keenum threw for 271, which is a record for a quarterback making his first start for the Texans.

Kubiak said he went with Keenum because he was looking for a spark. The Texans didn’t win, but they might have found that spark.

“We found a little heartbeat today,” Kubiak said. “I thought we came in here and played the type of game you have to play if you're going to come in here and win.”

According to ESPN, Keenum became the first undrafted quarterback to start the first time he was active since Jake Delhomme did it in 1999. Keenum is a local favorite, having played and set NCAA records for the University of Houston Cougars.

“You see glimpses from him in practice, when he runs the scout team and stuff like that and when you watch him in the preseason, you see different things that he does and you just kind of wonder, what if he was in a real game?” Andre Johnson said. “How would certain things happen? But, like I said, he did some great things today and he has no reason to hang his head. We didn't get the win but I think he went out and played great for us.”

While Keenum played well, he was unable to orchestrate a game-winning drive. The offense got the ball back with 1:46 left but he fumbled the ball away on the second play. In the fourth quarter, he was 3-for-6 for 42 yards (35 came on one play to DeAndre Hopkins early in the quarter). Keenum was sacked five times on Sunday; four of those sacks came in the fourth quarter. On the last sack of the day, he fumbled the ball away.

“It's nice to make good things happen but I'm gonna watch the film and I'm going to think about those couple of plays where I didn't and that's just how it goes,” Keenum said. “I'm learning this game. I'm learning that it's those few plays in the crunch time that make the difference. And you can play as well or as bad and then if you make a few plays or a turnover here or there or whatever it is, it's very small. And I guess, I'm gonna make them next time.”