CHICAGO – Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was asked if he felt like he had “shut up his critics” with the way he played in Sunday’s 31-30 loss to the Bears at Soldier Field.
Even Ponder seemed a little surprised by the question.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I mean, a pick-six is never good. That’s a terrible play. And obviously if we take away those seven points, it’s a different ballgame.”
Ponder’s one interception was returned 44 yards for a touchdown by cornerback Tim Jennings to give the Bears a 21-14 lead with 2 minutes, 51 seconds left in the first half.
At that point, Ponder had completed four of 12 passes for 52 yards. After that play, he went turnover-free while completing 12 of 18 passes for 175 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown on an outstanding throw over a defender to tight end Kyle Rudolph. He also had three other completions of 22 yards or more and ran six times for 18 yards.
“He really took charge,” Frazier said of Ponder. “After the interception for a touchdown, he didn’t waver. He stayed strong and committed to playing good, clean football. I’m really proud of the way he bounced back and played down the stretch for us. He gave us a chance. He really did. He did a great job.”
Two of Ponder’s biggest regrets were having to settle for a pair of fourth-quarter field goals following an interception by Harrison Smith and a fumble recovery by Letroy Guion. The latter was especially tough to take considering Ponder barely missed throwing a touchdown pass to Rudolph on second-and-goal from the 4 with 3:28 left in the game.
Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave had been aggressive, calling passes on three of the first four plays following Guion’s fumble recovery. Ponder responded by completing all three of them for 41 yards.
Musgrave stayed aggressive with the pass attempt to Rudolph. But Ponder couldn’t execute the play because the ball sailed wide right on him.
“It was close,” he said. “Running to my right, I put air on the ball and, of course, it’s going to carry to the right. Kyle was close to making a great play. If we would have punched that in, we score seven points rather than three and the game would have been over.”
On third-and-goal, Musgrave called for Adrian Peterson to run the ball up the middle. He was mugged for no gain.
“Adrian is one of the best players in the league, if not the best player,” Ponder said. “We understand that we are going to put the ball in his hands and he will make a play. I guarantee that the majority of the time, he’s going to get in there.”