Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder watches from the sideline.
Jeffrey Phelps, Associated Press
Hartman: Without Ponder, Vikings had no chance to win
- Article by: SID HARTMAN
- Star Tribune
- January 6, 2013 - 9:16 AM
But with Ponder sidelined by a bad elbow after not practicing most of the week and Adrian Peterson operating with a quarterback who hasn't played all season and lacking the passing ability to make Peterson's running game effective, the Vikings were eliminated from the NFL postseason.
At halftime, the Packers, behind Aaron Rodgers, had 197 passing yards, compared to the 6 net yards passing for the Vikings with Joe Webb at quarterback.
Gannon, the former Vikings and Raiders quarterback now in his eighth season working as an analyst for CBS, said a big reason for the loss is that when coaches spend time during the week trying to get two quarterbacks ready to play while not knowing which one will, it creates complications that mean neither one is ready to do well in the game.
"That poor kid Joe Webb goes in there, and the speed of the game is so different and you know you're flying around," Gannon said. "It's tough. He doesn't have the timing and the rhythm with the receivers and the passing game, the offense, it's tough. It's a tough way to do it. It's hard."
On how Webb handled himself, Gannon said: "I thought he handled himself OK. He didn't throw the ball well. He was all over the place with his footwork. He was missing throws high, I mean, you know you go up against a good defense like that, tight coverage, he was very erratic with his location on throws and his accuracy.
"But I thought he ran around and made some plays. It's about what I expected from him. He's very athletic. He's a better runner than he is a passer right now, and he's a very raw player right now. He just doesn't have the experience. He's certainly not a finished product. He has a lot of work to do in order to get ready and feel good about him as a backup."Rodgers the best in the game
Gannon then brought up that Rodgers, the reigning NFL MVP, is the best quarterback in the game now.
"His mastery of the offense, he has probably the strongest arm in the league, his accuracy, his athleticism, I mean the scheme, it's just perfect for him," Gannon said. "They've got probably the best four-or-five deep at wide receiver. All of those guys could start for about any other team in the league."
Yes, Rodgers did his job, but the Vikings actually held the Packers to three points less than their season average, so the defense wasn't too bad.Ponder improved, was missed
Gannon said he thought Ponder improved throughout the season, especially in the final four weeks.
"Look at what happened to him late in the year," Gannon said. "He went through that adversity, and you and I have talked before, everybody was so hard on him, but he kind of hung in there at the end, and he probably played the best game of his career against the Packers last week.
"I think everybody felt like, in a game where you think the Packers would be favored and it would be tough for the Vikings to go on the road, but with Ponder, as well as he played last week, and with Peterson, you felt like they had a real chance. But without Ponder, I knew it was going to be difficult, real difficult. They just didn't get anything going offensively."Gophers to enroll
The Gophers football program expects four recruits to enroll Jan. 21: linebacker Damien Wilson of Jones County (Miss.) Junior College; quarterback Chris Streveler of Marion Central Catholic High School in Woodstock, Ill.; and defensive linemen Hank Ekpe of Lewisville, Texas, and Jordan Hinojosa of Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College.
The Gophers have a recent commitment from the top high school punter in the country in Ryan Santoso of Pace, Fla. He is very large for a punter, standing 6-5 and weighing 270 pounds. Normally the Gophers don't give scholarships to punters, but Santoso will get a scholarship.
Speaking of the Gophers, Kevin Sumlin, a former Gophers assistant coach, closed out a terrific first season as coach at Texas A&M by winning the Cotton Bowl 35-17 over Kansas State on Thursday night. The Aggies defense -- which curtailed a high-powered Wildcats offense -- was orchestrated by defensive coordinator Mark Snyder, who was the defensive ends coach for the Gophers from 1997 to 2000.
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