Vikings’ Ponder says rough game already in past
Christian Ponder has tried to quickly forget about his
welcome-to-the-NFL game at Green Bay.
Quarterbacks, after all, don’t last long if they dwell too much
on their mistakes.
The Minnesota Vikings rookie was sacked three times, threw an
interception and completed less than half of his passes Monday
against the unbeaten Packers and their relentlessly blitzing
”It’s already in the past. I’m already moving on,” Ponder said
He added: ”I never anticipated it. I never wanted it to happen,
and I didn’t expect it to happen. You’ve just got to learn from
Ponder’s performance looked like a regression from his debut as
a starter Oct. 23 against Green Bay, when he nearly rallied
Minnesota to victory in a 33-27 loss. Ponder also played well in an
Oct. 30 win over the Carolina Panthers, showing poise, confidence
and a deft touch in the clutch on third down.
But he refused to wallow in discouragement by the blowout he and
the Vikings endured against the rival Packers.
”We were looking to continue that momentum and go into Green
Bay and get a win, but it’s football. It’s the NFL,” Ponder said.
”You are going to win some, and you’re going to lose some.”
The Vikings (2-7) host the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
”With a short week you can put it behind you pretty quickly,”
Ponder said. ”We want to finish the second half of the season
strong. We still have a lot of games left and a lot of wins that we
That won’t get them in the playoffs, but there’s the possibility
of a positive carry-over effect for 2012 if Ponder and the rest of
the offense can click down the stretch.
”There are going to be days where you’re not as successful as
others, and you have to learn from those situations,” coach Leslie
Frazier said. ”I think he will, and our entire group has to learn
from what happened on Monday night. Christian got some valuable
experience that I think will help him down the road.”
Another game against Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson and constant
pressure applied by the Packers sure didn’t hurt his experience –
even if it hurt his body.
Ponder’s left, non-throwing, hand was stepped on late in the
game. But he had an X-ray that showed no break and said Wednesday
it’s fine, just a bit stiff and sore.
Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers sent a linebacker or a
safety to blitz on more than half of the plays. They also
frequently kept a ”spy” on him so he couldn’t scramble his way
out of trouble for a first down.
Ponder acknowledged he needs to step forward in the pocket more
effectively to keep speed rushers such as Matthews from taking him
down or at least disrupting the pass and be quicker at finding the
”hot” receiver – essentially the safety valve – on those
He said he relishes the challenge of facing that pressure, too,
which is good for the Vikings because they’ll certainly see a lot
more of it while Ponder is still developing.
”Our mentality is that blitzes bring big plays. There a lot of
holes in the defense when they are bringing somebody off the
edge,” Ponder said.
There were two plays in particular that stood out against the
Packers as rookie gaffes.
Without realizing Woodson was up at the line ready to blitz,
Ponder missed an opportunity to change a running play to a short
pass early in the third quarter on first-and-10. Instead, he handed
off to Adrian Peterson, who went right and was smothered by Woodson
for a 6-yard loss.
”Next time I need to throw a bubble route there and get the
ball out to a wideout,” Ponder said. ”He was an unaccounted guy,
and I have to account for him and do something with the ball.”
In the second quarter, on second-and-4 near midfield, the
Vikings called a flea-flicker. But the Packers didn’t bite when
Peterson ran into the line with the ball. He pitched it back to
Ponder, whose downfield heave for Devin Aromashodu was intercepted
in double coverage by Tramon Williams at the 2-yard line.
”They did a good job. They played quarters, and the safety fell
back on it and I underthrew the ball,” Ponder said, adding: ”I
should have eaten the ball. I should have tried to make something
happen with my feet instead.”
From all that Ponder has shown in his short time with the
Vikings, though, he’s not the kind of guy who needs a lot of
”Christian is a mature guy, man, especially for being that
young,” right tackle Phil Loadholt said. ”He knows that. He
played at a big-time program. He’s played in big games. There’s
really nothing that I personally need to tell him. He knows it all
already from that standpoint. It’s not always going to be perfect,
especially in this league. We put it behind us and move forward and
get ready for this week.”
Follow Dave Campbell on Twitter: