Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder, coming off a 23-14 loss to Green Bay where he fell under heavy criticism, admitted Wednesday that his poor performance was a “wake-up call.”
“We’re in that game and some of the mistakes I made were very frustrating,” Ponder said. “I’m always critical of myself, but with such an important game and such costly mistakes, because of me, it was very frustrating. It was kind of a wake-up call that obviously I need to be doing some stuff differently and change my game and elevate my play so that, especially where we are in the season, with the goals that are in our hands, I have to make sure that I give our team a chance to be successful and achieve those goals.”
The Vikings play host to the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
Ponder, who confirmed that he became engaged this week to ESPN reporter Samantha Steele, had two critical interceptions against the Packers.
“The mistakes I made were pretty obvious and pretty dumb,” he said. “It’s not hard to eliminate those dumb mistakes. We still want to be aggressive; we just have to be so much smarter and try not to force things.”
“I still have my confidence. I think, with me, after a bad game I’m even more excited to come back to work the next week and the next day just so I can put it behind me. … Obviously, I want to play better and I know that I need to play better, but my confidence is still there.”
As far as his engagement, Ponder said, “We’re not going into the details of that. We’re excited. It was a fun experience this week, but we’ve moved on.”
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he has tried to encourage Ponder this week, reminding him “of some of the things he did very well when we were having success across the board as an offense and letting him know that we have confidence that he can get back to getting that done, and no greater time than right now.”
Wide receivers Jerome Simpson and Devin Aromashodu stood firmly in Ponder’s corner.
“I got a lot of confidence in Christian,” said Simpson. “He’s going to bounce back, he’s going to have a great game.”
Is Ponder being unfairly criticized?
“Yup,” Simpson said. “That guy, he’s a tough guy, man, and a lot of added pressure that’s put on him shouldn’t be, a lot of criticism shouldn’t be put on him. I guess that’s just the nature of being a quarterback, but a lot of this pressure stuff being put on him shouldn’t be, because that guy, he’s trying his heart out.”
Said Aromashodu: “You can’t blame it on one person. It takes everyone from the linemen to the receivers running the right routes to, you know, the quarterback to the protection with the running backs. So everything has to work together in the passing game.”
Receiver Percy Harvin (ankle) and defensive end Jared Allen (shoulder, back) did not participate in the Vikings' practice Wednesday.