Reusse: Ponder found his rhythm in Chicago, then the rug was pulled

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 19, 2013 - 3:22 PM

There was a chance for Christian Ponder to start redefining himself as the Vikings’ quarterback near the end of Sunday’s game in Chicago. It took a stubborn effort from Bill Musgrave, Ponder’s offensive coordinator, to make certain that this wasn’t going to happen.

The Vikings arrived in Soldier Field having lost 11 of 12 on the road to the Bears. Touchdowns on Cordarrelle Patterson’s return of a kickoff and Brian Robison’s return of a fumble allowed the Vikings to be in a 14-14 tie late in the first half.

Then, Ponder threw a short out to his right, the Bears’ Tim Jennings jumped in front and went 44 yards for a touchdown.

Back in Minnesota, that was going to be the lasting memory of another road loss to the Bears, until Ponder and the Vikings rallied.

The visitors were leading 27-24 in the middle of the fourth quarter when tackle Letroy Guion made a play that could be shown on Vikings highlights for years to come. The big man ripped the football from running back Matt Forte and secured it in his arms as both went to the ground.

The forced fumble and recovery gave the Vikings possession at Chicago’s 47. Ponder found Jerome Simpson for 12 yards and John Carlson for 7. On third-and-3, he dropped a pass between two defenders and Greg Jennings held on magnificently, and the Vikings had a first down at the 6.

Ponder was running around like an athlete in control of the world. The offensive huddle and the Vikings sideline were ready to celebrate.

And when it reached third down at the Bears 4, Musgrave ordered Adrian Peterson up the gut, and the run was stonewalled, and the Vikings kicked a field goal, and they lost 31-30.

On Wednesday, Ponder conducted the starting quarterback’s weekly media session at Winter Park and was asked: Did you have the option to check to a pass (on third down)?

“No, I did not,” he said.

Ponder’s teammates appeared to be at the height of confidence in him. Clearly, it was an attitude that Musgrave didn’t share. He ordered a Peterson run — with no option for Ponder to use a QB’s better judgment.

It was mentioned to Ponder that selected media members and disgruntled fans were puzzled not to see him roll right with the option to run or throw.

“We have the best running back in the league,” Ponder said. “… We wanted points on the board. We didn’t want anything crazy to happen. We wanted to keep the clock running and force them to take the timeout.”

There you have it. The Vikings’ brain trust wanted some points, and nothing crazy, and the Bears using a second timeout. What the coaches should have wanted — and the heck with the rest of it — was a touchdown.

This question (complete with editorial comment) was asked of Ponder: “Is a roll-out-right play actually in your playbook? We don’t see it much. We do see you roll out left, which we can’t figure out.”

Ponder said: “We call roll rights. It all depends on what hash we’re on and when the play comes in … but we do go right.”

How much different would the crowd for this Sunday’s home opener feel about Ponder as the quarterback, if the Vikings were 1-1, not 0-2, and if the Vikings had gotten there with Ponder driving them to a game-clinching TD drive at Soldier Field?

This was the chance for the first road win vs. the Bears since 2007, and only the second of this century.

And after that third-down throw to Jennings, another third-down conversion for Ponder at the goal line — using his speed or his arm — could have caused legions of Vikings fans to say:

“Maybe we were wrong about this guy. Maybe he can turn into a reason that this team wins games in tough circumstances.”

Musgrave didn’t believe, and now Ponder must wait for that moment. He could go 20-for-22 with three touchdowns Sunday and it won’t matter, because it would be a victory over the Browns with Brian Hoyer starting at quarterback.

Bad decision, Purple brainiacs — not giving your quarterback the chance to lock up a road win in Chicago and gain big points back home.

 

 

Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500. • preusse@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tennessee 7:25 PM
Jacksonville
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Atlanta 127 FINAL
Cleveland 98
Phoenix 111 FINAL
Charlotte 106
Dallas 117 FINAL
Detroit 106
Utah 105 FINAL
Miami 87
Orlando 92 FINAL
Boston 109
Brooklyn 89 FINAL
Toronto 105
Memphis 117 FINAL
San Antonio 116
Milwaukee 97 FINAL
Portland 104
Houston 115 FINAL
Denver 111
Indiana 100 FINAL
LA Clippers 102
Ottawa 2 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 2
Dallas 2 FINAL
Vancouver 0
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
James Madison 72 FINAL
Ball State 52
SIU Edwardsville 65 FINAL
Campbell 70
St Francis-PA 67 FINAL
Duquesne 52
North Florida 77 FINAL
Florida State 93
Catawba 69 FINAL
George Mason 99
Ferrum 48 FINAL
High Point 106
Hampton 55 FINAL
Illinois 73
Gardner-Webb 65 FINAL
Jacksonville 68
Longwood 60 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 71
Arkansas State 69 FINAL
Miss State 55
Tennessee 72 FINAL
NC State 83
NC A&T 55 FINAL
Ohio State 97
Manhattan 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 65
Robert Morris 57 FINAL
Toledo 83
Char Southern 58 FINAL
Wofford 64
Kennesaw St 90 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
Barber-Scotia 52 FINAL
NC Central 108
Detroit 70 FINAL
UCF 75
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 73
TX A&M-CC 73 FINAL
Denver 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 61 FINAL
Houston 56
UT Martin 54 FINAL
Illinois State 64
Milligan 76 FINAL
Louisiana 115
Abilene Christian 44 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 83
USC Upstate 73 FINAL
Memphis 83
Alcorn State 56 FINAL
Murray State 94
Central Mich 80 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Georgia State 54 FINAL
Old Dominion 58
TX-Pan American 69 FINAL
Saint Louis 75
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
SMU 67
Texas State 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 66
SC State 39 FINAL
Texas Tech 101
Missouri State 70 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Chicago State 60 FINAL
Western Ky 75
Morehead State 50 FINAL
Green Bay 66
Northern Colorado 82 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 92
Winthrop 62 FINAL
Auburn 80
New Mexico St 55 FINAL
Baylor 66
San Diego St 62 FINAL
Cincinnati 71
Eastern Mich 46 FINAL
Michigan State 66
Loyola Marymount 58 FINAL
Stanford 67
Incarnate Word 82 FINAL
Grand Canyon 80
Northeastern 58 FINAL
Cal Poly 60
Central Arkansas 55 FINAL
New Mexico 76
Howard 45 FINAL
Pepperdine 53
Portland 73 FINAL
UNLV 75
CS-Northridge 56 FINAL
Oregon 79
Grambling St 38 FINAL
Washington 86
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 77 FINAL
Campbell 51
Akron 73 FINAL
UCF 64
Richmond 77 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 67
Montana 70 FINAL
Seattle 64
(7) Stanford 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 54
Florida A&M 69 FINAL
Southern U 80
Oklahoma 72 FINAL
(13) Duke 92
Savannah State 56 FINAL
Auburn 62
Northern Colorado 43 FINAL
South Florida 84
Youngstown St 73 FINAL
Robert Morris 65
Siena 75 FINAL
Sacred Heart 65
Vermont 63 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
(1) South Carolina 69 FINAL
Hampton 49
Fla Gulf Coast 91 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 46
Texas Southern 92 FINAL
Houston Baptist 80
Northwestern 88 FINAL
UNLV 84
NC A&T 70 FINAL
Appalachian St 72
NC Central 52 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 67
Drexel 50 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Cincinnati 52 FINAL
Northern Ky 66
Alabama State 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 77
Morehead St 69 FINAL
USC Upstate 75
Arkansas State 59 FINAL
Kent State 44
American Univ 60 FINAL
Manhattan 52
UNC Greensboro 60 FINAL
St Bonaventure 78
Arkansas-Monticello 56 FINAL
Northwestern St 61
Prairie View 70 FINAL
Sam Houston St 51
McNeese State 59 FINAL
(3) Texas 76
Yale 90 FINAL
Wagner 65
Oakland 61 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 54
Eastern Kentucky 62 FINAL
Alabama A&M 56
SIU-Edwardsville 47 FINAL
Northern Ill 69
McMurry 25 FINAL
TX-Arlington 82
Portland 65 FINAL
Eastern Washington 72
North Texas 42 FINAL
San Francisco 60

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close