EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Quarterback Christian Ponder left Lambeau Field upset a month ago following the Minnesota Vikings’ 23-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers after two costly interceptions turned a possible win into an eventual loss.
Ponder was 12 of 25 on Dec. 2 at Green Bay, throwing for 119 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions — one in the end zone — as Minnesota spoiled a 210-yard rushing day by Adrian Peterson in the loss. Ponder gets another chance against the Packers this weekend, knowing the stakes are even higher this time around with a playoff berth to be decided. Win — which is what the Vikings have done on the road the past two weeks with Ponder playing efficient games — and Minnesota will have rebounded from last year’s 3-13 record to make the playoffs.
Here are a few highlights from Ponder’s press conference with local reporters on Wednesday:
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1. How have you processed the stage that’s going to be there Sunday for you, personally?
PONDER: I haven’t thought too much about it. For me, I’m not going to try and put extra pressure on myself. It’s the most important game of the year because it is the next one. I think obviously because of the bearing that it has on the season and what can happen afterwards, but it’s the next one. We’re not treating it any bigger. We’re not putting any pressure on ourselves. I think we play the best when we’re relaxed and we have fun with it and that’s what we’re going to try and do this week.
2. You would acknowledge though that you’re probably going to be judged a lot on what happens on Sunday?
PONDER: Yeah, I mean I think everyone judges me a lot every Sunday. So, we’ll see what happens on this Sunday. But obviously this is a big game for this organization and my career.
3. You made very clear that you put that first game at Lambeau Field on yourself and you were pretty down after the game. What was that trip back to Minnesota like and the 48 hours before you could get back on the practice field?
PONDER: It wasn’t fun. It was tough. Obviously, as a team, we were playing really well in that game and were up, ahead, going into the second half and everything. It was tough. But kind of like what we have to do this week is, I put it behind myself; watched the film on Monday and moved on and treated it just like this past week. Win at Houston, watched the film on Monday and move on. So, it’s behind us. Obviously I learned from some things from that game. But yeah, the flight home was not a fun one.
4. What did it mean to have the number of guys that came up to you after that just to make sure?
PONDER: Yeah, it was big. I have great teammates and a great support staff with coach Frazier and the rest of the coaches. I think it’s very important knowing those guys have your back and they’re not separating you from the team.
5. When you look at this last whole month and almost each game you’ve had to win, has that prepared you for this one and the sense of urgency you’ve had to play with for more than a month now?
PONDER: Yeah, I think so. I think the past three games, prior games, we’ve treated like playoff games. We knew if we lost one of those our chances at making the playoffs were pretty slim. That’s the same with this one. We’re going to treat it like we have to win this one to get in the playoffs, and that’s pretty much the case. We’re going to try and handle our business and handle that pressure, and we’ll see what happens.