Late last Sunday afternoon, Case Keenum was hunting.
Late this Sunday afternoon, he and the Texans bagged their limit of Ravens.
The third-year quarterback was under center for the first time in a regular season game since Week 15 of 2013. He started eight times last season, and never left the field victoriously. That all changed Sunday against Baltimore, as he and the Texans triumphed by a 25-13 margin.
He was the fourth Texans quarterback to take a snap this season, as Ryan Mallett and Ryan Fitzpatrick are now on injured reserve, and Tom Savage was inactive because of a knee injury. A
Saint Louis Rams practice squadder for the first 15 weeks of the season, Keenum had last weekend off after the Rams played a Thursday nighter. A whirlwind week started with a text from Keenum's wife, on December 14.
"I was in a tree with a bow in my hand, hunting white-tail deer out in a field about 30 minutes outside of Missouri," Keenum said. "My wife was texting me actually during the Texans game that Ryan had gotten hurt and that Tom was in there and Shane (Lechler) was warming up. I got a call from my agent and my heart kind of jumped a little bit, and it's been pretty wild since then."
Keenum got down from the tree, got his things in order, and flew back to Houston on Monday morning. A Texan from May of 2012 until the end of this August, Keenum returned to smiles and hugs from teammates who were happy to have him back with the squad. He also got to work getting ready for the challenge ahead in the Ravens' defense.
"He came in and stepped right in on practice on Wednesday and in the meetings and he was right on point with everything that we were doing," head coach Bill O'Brien said. "He has got great recollection, did a great job with that, and then we mixed things up."
Keenum's first pass was a 35-yard completion up the left sideline to Andre Johnson. Those two connected for five touchdowns in 2013, and the tandem linked up six times for 65 yards in the win over Baltimore.
"He played big," Johnson said. "For him to come home and do that, to be put in this situation, and come back home and do that, it was an awesome feeling. He was pretty happy."
Keenum finished with 185 yards on 20-of-42 passing. More importantly, though, he and the Texans finished as winners. That was an extra-special feeling for the former University of Houston Cougar.
"It's very special," Keenum said. "Somebody's told me before that when you don't win, that's what makes winning that much more sweet. It's very sweet. It feels really, really good."
Running back Arian Foster, not Keenum, threw the Texans' only touchdown of the day. He found C.J. Fiedorowicz on a halfback pass near the end of the second quarter. But Foster was happy for Keenum and the emotion that came with winning.
"He got a little emotional after the game and rightfully so, he came out here and played a hell of a game," Foster said.
Keenum joked that he never bagged the 20-point deer on that bowhunting trip last weekend. But a win in Week 16, with a chance at a victory next week and a possible playoff trip beyond more than made up for it.