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. "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."
Ponder had a 41.9 passer rating against the Packers on the heels of a 58.2 rating in the previous game, a 28-10 loss in Chicago. The Vikings play host to the Bears on Sunday.
Ponder, who confirmed 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. 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."
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."
Behind the QB
Wide receivers Jerome Simpson and Devin Aromashodu said they were supporting the struggling Ponder.
"I got a lot of confidence in Christian," Simpson said. "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."
The Vikings-Bears game two weeks ago ended with some controversy after Chicago guard Lance Louis suffered a season-ending knee injury when hit high with a blindside block by Vikings defensive end Jared Allen while cornerback Antoine Winfield was returning an interception. No penalty was called, but Allen was fined $21,000.
"It was unfortunate that Lance tore his ACL," Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said. "I don't think Jared is that type of player, I don't think he was out intentionally to hurt anyone. I wish he would have hit him a little lower, but it happened."
Allen had a conference call with Chicago media Wednesday and said: "There is nothing to retaliate. It wasn't malicious. It wasn't done out of ill will. We had an interception. A guy was running towards our guy to make a tackle and I threw a block."
Allen sat out practice Wednesday because of shoulder and back issues.
The Bears will play Sunday without All-Pro middle linebacker Brian Urlacher (hamstring).
"You know what you are going to get out of Brian," Cutler said. "Everything kind of runs through him [on defense], he gets them lined up, he makes the checks, and it's a tough loss. But that defense has been together for a long time and they have some guys that know it just as well as Brian does, so they've got to step up for us."