Keenum looks to build on first NFL win as Texans host Jaguars with a shot at making playoffs



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HOUSTON — When Case Keenum woke up Wednesday morning, he didn't even realize it was Christmas Eve.

It's easy to see why Houston's quarterback hasn't had time to think about the holidays. Instead of visions of sugar plums dancing in his head, he's swimming in play calls, formations and defensive alignments after being plucked off the St. Louis practice squad to start for the Texans.

Keenum was released by Houston in training camp when the team traded for Ryan Mallett. But after Mallett, Ryan Fitzpatrick and rookie Tom Savage all went down with injuries, the Texans called on Keenum again.

And he delivered, guiding them to a 25-13 win over the Ravens to keep their playoff hopes alive just six days after re-signing with the team. Houston needs a win and losses by both Baltimore and San Diego to clinch a postseason berth.

"There's really no normal right now," Keenum said. "I can't even believe it's Christmas Eve. I haven't done a whole lot of shopping in the last few days."

Running back Arian Foster said that Keenum was the first person at the facility and the last one to leave every day last week. Keenum wasn't sure exactly how many hours he spent working that week but knows it was a lot.

"I really don't want to estimate. I'd probably count the hours I slept easier," Keenum said.

So how many hours did he sleep?

"It went by too fast," he said. "Not enough hours."

Coach Bill O'Brien was impressed with Keenum's poise and the way he led the team Sunday. O'Brien said it's hard to be thrown into a locker room suddenly and be expected to be a leader.

"Coming in there and having the recollection of our schemes that he did was really good," O'Brien said. "When he got into the huddle, he did a good job."

It was the first NFL win for Keenum, who lost each of the eight games he started for Houston last season. He was 20 of 42 for 185 yards with an interception against the Ravens.

Keenum was excited to return to the Texans in the city where he starred at the University of Houston. He left the school as the NCAA's all-time leader in career total yards (20,114), yards passing (19,217), touchdowns passing (155) and total touchdowns (178).

Despite his stellar college career, he went undrafted before being picked up by the Texans.

After struggling in his first stint as a starter for the Texans, he is excited to have finally gotten his first NFL win. He said he's received too many well-wishes to count since the victory Sunday.

"They're all special and all mean a lot," he said. "I don't play to prove people wrong, although that's nice to do. I play to prove people right that have been in my corner and been supporting me my whole life."

Keenum thinks he's been helped by an increased knowledge of defenses and how to pick up protections since being released by Houston in August. He's still a bit in shock at the wild turn his life has taken in the last couple of weeks, but he has a plan to not let the situation overwhelm him.

"(It's) very crazy," he said. "But I try not to pick my head up and look around. ... Just taking it a day at a time."


AP NFL websites: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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