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

defense.

”It’s already in the past. I’m already moving on,” Ponder said

Wednesday.

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

it.”

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

can achieve.”

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

blitzes.

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

encouragement.

”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.”

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