It's almost like Case Keenum doesn't know any better. Or refuses to accept reality.
He'll just keep heaving darts down the field. He'll just keep firing back at Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Maybe, if he refuses to blink in the face of the scariest tandem in recent NFL history, he can keep the horror at bay. Maybe if he refuses to acknowledge the fact that Brady and Belichick are sure to make those halftime adjustments that so mystify longtime Houston Texans like Antonio Smith, he'll be able to put enough points up after all.
So Case Keenum doesn't accept reality. He just keeps running around like he's in the happiest place in the world, screaming his face off in joy for any Texan who will listen.
This is the time of Case Keenum's quarterback life, the time that should determine whether he gets more time next season. Damn, if he's not going to make the most of it. Even if it's all bound to turn out as New England 34, Houston 31 in the end.
He's a work in progress and he just dropped 31 points on Belichick and the Patriots. How much more quarterback promise do you need?
"His attitude, his approach to the game is great," veteran Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson says. "It’s not the mentality of a young player. When things are going bad, he’s in the huddle saying things to keep everybody up. He’s not just thinking about himself.
"He’s a fiery guy, he loves the game and I think that's the great thing about him."
What's also pretty great about him? Thirty one points against Belichick's ever-shifting defensive schemes. The Hoodie is supposed to slurp up and spit out rookie quarterbacks. Instead Keenum guides the Texans to their highest point total of the season (they also scored 31 against the Chargers in that frantic Week One comeback).
What Keenum is doing with an otherwise dead and dinged up Texans team can no longer be ignored.
Yes, Keenum is now 0-6 as a starting quarterback with three losses by three points, one loss by one point and one loss by seven points. But maybe, the miracle is he's somehow keeping these ultra-flawed, dispirited Texans this close. You'd have to be Tom Brady to win any games with these Texans.
After all, it doesn't get any more comic than defensive end Antonio Smith standing in the middle of the locker room, still in uniform, insisting that Belichick and the Patriots must be spying on the Texans defensive plans (sorry, Belichick cheats, but he doesn't need to cheat to beat these Texans). It's like the veteran Smith never heard of spot-on halftime adjustments.
Then again, he does play for the Houston Texans.
That's not really fair with Keenum in the equation though. For Gary Kubiak and Keenum come up with the play that most Texans fans will remember from this game — that 66-yard completion to DeAndre Hopkins packed full of promise — on the sideline. In the middle of the game. With the pressure of Tom Brady's second-half offensive onslaught mounting.
"We saw something in their defense, and felt that DeAndre could make a play for us," Keenum says. "Honestly, we just drew it up in the dirt and it turned out exactly how we wanted it to."
With Keenum looking off the safety and ensuring Hopkins finds himself one-on-one with cornerback Kyle Arrington. It's one of Keenum's more confident moves of the game. And one of four completions of more than 25 yards in his 272-yard passing day.
Case Keenum clearly possesses the talent to play quarterback at a high level in the NFL.
How much more does Keenum need to show now? This game and the Sunday nighter against Indianapolis and Andrew Luck scream out his potential.
Case Keenum clearly possesses the talent to play quarterback at a high level in the NFL. This game reinforces how desperately the Texans need another impact player on defense. Why reach for a quarterback in the NFL Draft when you can grab a game-changer to complement J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing? Rip Wade Phillips' schemes all you want, the Texans clearly don't have enough star-level defensive players.
They let Brady roll all over them in the second half, score five times in five possessions. The adjustments from the Patriots coaches may be fantastic. But the talent gap is larger.
What more do you need to see from Keenum or these rather tame Bulls On Parade at this point? Thirty one points against Belichick. When isn't that enough. These 2-10 Texans have earned the worst record in all of the NFL. They need to be smart and make that No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft work for them.
They already have a quarterback working for them.
"He’s an athletic guy back there," Belichick says of Keenum. "Made some good throws. Scored 31 points. I mean they obviously gave us trouble."
Keenum's giving the Texans a chance against the NFL's very best. Under some near impossible circumstances, he continues to show a flair for making plays. Whether with his feet (Kubiak deserves credit for calling the designed quarterback run that produces one of the Texans' four touchdown), his arm — or his head.
"Made some good throws. Scored 31 points. I mean they obviously gave us trouble."
"I thought he did a great job with his pocket presence today," left tackle Duane Brown says. "Being able to sit in there, and trust us up front, and still extend plays a little bit longer . . . and make some big plays down the field. He was great all day."
Against the best. When is that going to be enough?
Keenum needs to work on his pro completion percentage. He comes in at 50 percent on this day (15 for 30). He needs more easy completions to go with his go-for-it bombs. But considering Keenum completed 71 percent of his passes his senior year at the University of Houston, this is something he and Kubiak should be able to improve.
Keenum has the skill set. He just needs to hone it. He's a work in progress and he just dropped 31 points on Belichick and the Patriots. Do you really think a No. 1 draft pick QB is going to blitz the Patriots for 31?
How much more quarterback promise do you need?