The lilt in Case Keenum’s voice was missing as he spoke about the end of the Minnesota Vikings’ season in a softer-than-usual tone.
His eyes misted over Adidas Tyler Seguin Jersey , Keenum carefully maintained enough composure to keep his voice from cracking. There was no hiding the hurt from the shellacking in Philadelphia, though, that left the Vikings again one victory short of reaching the Super Bowl.
”You go to bed and don’t sleep, and you wake up early and don’t go back to sleep,” Keenum said on Monday in a largely empty locker room at team headquarters on the heels of the shocking 38-7 defeat by the Eagles . ”That’s the what-if, could-have, should-have, would-have, but I did everything I could during the week. I prepared the best I’d been prepared. I just didn’t make the plays, and the ball didn’t bounce our way.”
Keenum committed three turnovers on Sunday night, after only nine giveaways in his previous 16 games. The Eagles turned those into 14 points on top of what the Vikings could have scored on the possession that ended with a sack-fumble deep in Eagles territory. The game was still within reach then, in the second quarter, but after halftime it was well out of hand.
”We believed that we were going to win that game, just like we believed every week prior to that that we could win the game that week,” running back Latavius Murray said. ”We were capable of it. We believed in everybody in the locker room, and we had the guys to do it. We just didn’t play well, and they played really well.”
The defense that was the stingiest in the NFL this season was scorched by backup quarterback Nick Foles and a bunch of receivers who appeared to do whatever they wanted to up and down the field.
”I could’ve called a lot better game, obviously,” coach Mike Zimmer said. ”Point the finger at me before you point it at the players.”
Becoming the first team in history to play in a Super Bowl on home turf was the dream scenario that didn’t materialize Adidas Gordie Howe Jersey , but the Vikings were primarily stunned by how poorly they played on the next-biggest stage and disheartened by how, after 4+ months of such strong performances, they were ultimately left without the chance to play for a championship like the 29 other teams eliminated before them.
Instead, after a sixth NFC championship game loss by the Vikings since their last Super Bowl appearance 41 years ago, the Eagles will take on the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium on Feb. 4.
”I’ve never had so much fun coming to work in my life, never had so much fun playing football in my life, as this year. That’s not cliche. That’s the honest truth,” wide receiver Adam Thielen said. ”So I think that makes it a little tougher, too, because you really don’t know what’s going to happen year to year, as far as a group changing and things like that, and that’s why you have to take advantage of those opportunities because you never know when you’ll be back.”
The offseason uncertainty starts at quarterback, where Keenum is the consensus favorite to return after a breakout performance that altered his career narrative following five years as a backup. His contract is scheduled to expire along with Sam Bradford’s and Teddy Bridgewater’s, though, leaving no guarantee for any of them.
”I have an inkling that all those guys are going to be starting quarterbacks in this league for someone, and they’re going to win a lot of games,” Thielen said, ”because they’re that type of character guys, they’re that type of football players Adidas Mike Green Jersey , they’re guys you want on your team, and they’re guys you want to play for.”
Bridgewater was inactive for the two playoff games, with Bradford the backup, a development that didn’t bode well for his future in Minnesota. Asked whether he sees himself as a starter in the league somewhere in 2018, Bridgewater replied, ”Definitely, yeah. Without a question.”
Bradford was not in the locker room when it was open to reporters. Keenum, though unwilling yet to speculate about his pending free agency, made clear he would prefer to remain with the Vikings if it’s up to him.
”Just the attitude and the character and the culture they have around here is awesome,” Keenum said, ”and not to mention Minnesota itself. The people here have been great. My biggest fear coming here was the snow, and I didn’t even shovel that. So it’s been a great year.”
A look at what’s happening around baseball today:
THIRTEEN AND COUNTING
Edwin Jackson is set to play for his 13th team in the majors, matching the most by any big leaguer. The injury-depleted Athletics are promoting him from Triple-A to start at Detroit. The 34-year-old righty will tie the clubs mark held by former reliever Octavio Dotel. Jackson made his debut in 2003 with the Los Angeles Dodgers and later pitched for Tampa Bay, Detroit, Arizona, the Chicago White Sox, St. Louis, Washington, the Chicago Cubs Adidas Frans Nielsen Jersey , Atlanta, Miami, San Diego and Baltimore.
Jackson and Dotel, who finished up in 2013, were teammates just once in their overlapping careers. They were part of the same three-team trade in July 2011 that sent them to St. Louis, and pitched in the World Series for the champion Cardinals.
Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez is likely headed to the disabled after pulling up while running out a double-play grounder Sunday at Tampa Bay. Manager Aaron Boone said Sanchez hurt his right groin/hip abductor and ”it’s probably going to be a DL situation.” He will have an MRI.
Sanchez is hitting only .190 with 14 home runs and 41 RBIs, a season after he made the AL All-Star team while batting .278 with 33 homers and 90 RBIs.
The AL Central-leading Indians and the NL Central cellar-dwelling Reds each have seven-game winning streaks. Both teams finished up sweeps in Ohio over the weekend and now hit the road – Mike Clevinger (6-2, 3.00 ERA) starts for Cleveland in St. Louis, and Tyler Mahle (6-6, 3.89) pitches for Cincinnati in Atlanta.
Cubs star Kris Bryant is day to day with a sore left shoulder. The third baseman missed his second straight start Sunday at Cincinnati, but doesn’t expect to be out much longer. Bryant is hitting .280 with nine home runs and 36 RBIs in 66 games. The Cubs next open a series at Dodger Stadium.
Astros ace Justin Verlander leads the majors with a 1.60 ERA and is among the league leaders in strikeouts. He’s fanned at least 10 three times this season – Houston is 0-3 in those games, totaling just two runs. Verlander (9-2) and J.A. Happ (9-3) both try to reach double digits in wins when Toronto visits Minute Maid Park.
Cubs right-hander Yu Darvish is ready to make a rehab start for Class A South Bend in the Midwest League. He’s been out since May 20 because of triceps tendinitis. He’s expected to throw around 75 pitches, and hopes to be back in the majors after that outing. Darvish is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA in eight starts since signing a $126 million, six-year deal with Chicago as a free agent.
TAKE A BREAK
Mets shortstop Amed Rosario is being held out of the starting lineup as part of a mental break over the next couple of days. The 22-year-old is hitting just .249 and has struggled this month.
”We brought him in and talked to him, sat him down and we’re going to make sure that we take these next couple of days to work on some things in his overall game,” manager Mickey Callaway said. ”This young kid is still trying to develop at the major league level and these couple of days will allow him to get some work done in the cage, some work done in the field tomorrow taking groundballs and things like that. So we thought this would be really good for him.”
The Mets have lost six straight. They’ve also dropped 13 of 14 at Citi Field heading into a home series against Pittsburgh.