After it's over — after Case Keenum records the first win of his NFL career in one of the most improbable situations any quarterback's ever faced — he runs around on the field and starts slapping every offensive lineman and coach he can find on the shoulder, wrapping many up in hugs. First-year Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien pulls him in for a near bear hug.
All the while, the biggest grin stays locked on Keenum's face.
It's a near Jimmy Valvano scene in the degree of pure joy just spilling out. But it turns out that Keenum's on-field celebration is damn near muted compared to his locker room moment.
"I couldn't put it all into words, how special it was for me. Arian (Foster) said he was going to punch me if I cried."
For when the Texans gather in the locker room after an emphatic 25-13 victory over the Baltimore Ravens — one that has owner Bob McNair giving himself a game ball because it's so big — Keenum stands up in front of the team and pours his heart out.
"He gave us a little mini speech," left tackle Duane Brown says. "He got a little choked up."
That's what lifting the burden of that 0-8 record as a starter — a deceiving stat that Keenum's media haters used to dismiss him at every opportunity — can do to a man. Keenum didn't quite cry though. Otherwise, he might have left with a black eye.
"I couldn't put it all into words, how special it was for me," Keenum says later at the interview podium. "Arian (Foster) said he was going to punch me if I cried."
The Texans lifeline tailback — the game-changing force Keenum never really got to play with last season during that 0-8 nightmare — was joking of course. Foster is more than appreciative of the Case Keenum story. The all-pro back came in as an undrafted free agent like Keenum. No. 23 knows what it's like to seemingly have the entire NFL establishment against you.
Keenum's first win is powered by a ferocious defensive effort and Foster's talents, but he is anything but just along for the ride. O'Brien has Keenum throw the ball 42 times, only eight less than comeback desperate Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. That's hardly the stuff of a caretaker that the Texans are working around. No, Keenum's skills are a huge part of O'Brien's winning gameplan.
"We knew Case is a tough guy," receiver DeAndre Hopkins says. "Once we found out he was coming in, guys got a little happy. Because we knew he was going to give it his all."
Then, Keenum let it all go in that impromptu locker room speech. Without getting slugged by Arian Foster. That's a win-win.