EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Coach Leslie Frazier wanted to get an idea of the resiliency of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder on Sunday and approached his third-year starter on the sideline after Ponder had thrown an interception returned for a touchdown.
Frazier talked to Ponder. He looked in his eyes. Frazier believed Ponder was ready to overcome the momentum-killing interception.
“I was really encouraged when I talked with him, he was really focused,” Frazier said Wednesday. “He told me, ‘Coach I put that behind me. I’ll be ready to go next series.’ The way he said it, the way he looked me in the eye when he said it, the conviction that he had, I was assured that he’s alright. He’s going to be OK. He went on and played well.”
Ponder was 4 of 12 for 52 yards passing before the interception. The rest of the game he went 12 of 18 passing for 175 yards and a touchdown and avoided any more turnovers in Minnesota’s 31-30 loss.
“Now we’ve got to build on that,” Frazier said. “Even though you could write a column about a guy’s performance, I could say things to him about his performance, but at the end of the day he’s got to recognize some of those things too and say, ‘you know what? I can do this a little bit better.’ And to Christian’s credit, he played much better in the second half.”
Here are some responses from Ponder during his weekly press conference with Minnesota media, touching on his recovery on Sunday and the potential for help from a new offensive threat:
1. What was your attitude like going back after the pick-6?
PONDER: Honestly, my attitude didn’t change. My confidence didn’t waiver. We knew that the execution had to pick up. That last drive before the half we spread them out. We completed a bubble route to Greg [Jennings], Adrian [Peterson] had a long run that got us towards the red zone and then Kyle [Rudolph] made a great catch. I think we started getting a rhythm after that. It was just a higher level of execution, but for me, I’ve learned to move on from those things and not let it carry over.
2. Frazier talked to you briefly after that and he said he liked what he saw in your eyes. When a coach comes up to you after a play like that, are you thinking, ‘I just got to make sure he knows that I’m still right there.”?
PONDER: Honestly, I didn’t think about Coach Frazier. My mindset is, ‘hey, I’ve got to change it for this team, for this offense, for us to have a chance.’ I think in prior instances like in high school or college I let interceptions affect me, even my rookie year here. But now I’ve found that I need to move on. I can’t let it affect me otherwise it’s going to negatively affect our offense and we’re not going to have as good of a chance to win the ballgame.
3. When you look at what Patterson can do when he gets the ball in his hands, how important is it that you guys start involving him more in the offense?
PONDER: He is great with the ball in his hands. The problem is he’s behind a guy that’s No. 4 in the league in average yards per catch, and Jerome’s playing at an extremely high level. But we want to continue to get Cordarrelle involved and he’s made plays for us. We’re going to keep getting him out there and put the ball in his hands. We see what he did in the return game and a couple of the screens that he has.
4. With Percy (Harvin), the screen was such a big weapon for you guys in the past. Can Cordarrelle approximate any of that from what you have seen so far?
PONDER: Yeah I think so. He’s got a great knack of making guys miss and finding holes and making plays with his legs. We’re going to continue to get him those balls and give him the ability to do so. Then he’ll keep developing his routes downfield. But again, Jerome’s playing at such a high level, it’s hard to take him off the field.
5. It seems when you’ve been at a lowpoint throughout your career here, you’ve bounced back and played some of your best ball. What do attribute that to?
PONDER: I don’t know. I guess, I don’t know if it’s just a sense of urgency that things need to be corrected. I’m not sure. There’s that expectation, when I make a bad play I don’t want to make up for it, but I do understand that the execution needs to pick up and the ball security needs to pick up. But I don’t know. It helps when the other guys play around you and play well and make plays like Kyle and Greg and Jerome did. I don’t know what the difference is. I don’t know.