Christian Ponder made some mistakes but also had the Vikings in a position to win, the Fox analyst said.
Troy Aikman, who went 0-11 as a rookie starting quarterback with the Dallas Cowboys in 1989, said he believed Christian Ponder had a good debut with the Vikings on Sunday against the Packers, even though the first-round pick out of Florida State threw two interceptions in a 33-27 loss.
Ponder opened the game with a 72-yard pass to Michael Jenkins that led to a 2-yard touchdown pass to Visanthe Shiancoe. It was a fast start for Ponder, who ended the day completing 13 of 32 passes for 219 yards with two touchdowns and the two picks, good for a 59.2 quarterback rating.
Ponder's performance wasn't close to that of Packers superstar Aaron Rodgers, who picked the crippled Vikings secondary apart, completing his first 13 pass attempts before rookie Randall Cobb dropped one. In all, Rodgers completed 24 of 30 passes for 335 yards, three touchdowns and a sensational 146.5 rating.
Getting back to Aikman, who did the color commentary for Fox on Sunday's game, the Hall of Famer had this to say about Ponder:
"I was impressed with his performance," Aikman said. "I know there's a couple of throws that he'd like to have back, but I thought overall he did a really nice job, starting with the first play of the game.
"He did the things that I think [the Vikings] anticipated he would do well, and that is getting outside of the pocket. I know the accuracy was somewhat of a question mark coming in, but I thought he threw a couple of very nice balls. He put his team in a position to win a game."
Aikman then recalled his first season, when the Cowboys made him the No. 1 overall draft pick out of UCLA.
"He already has a better rookie year than I did," said Aikman, whose Cowboys finished 1-15 in 1989.
Aikman, who went on to win three Super Bowls with Dallas, is certainly a great judge of quarterbacks. He said that the big thing Ponder needs is experience.
"It's just a matter of getting some throws under his belt," he said. "The NFL game is a little different from what it is in college, and the relationship between receivers and defenders. He'll get accustomed to those. The speed of these guys, the closing speed that a guy like [Packers cornerback] Charles Woodson has. You have to be pretty accurate when those balls are being contested. I think those are the things that he'll realize."
Maybe I am going on the limb, but give Ponder a couple of years, and with his scrambling and throwing ability, he will be another Fran Tarkenton.McNabb impressed
Donovan McNabb, a class act who has been nothing but supportive of Ponder since the rookie was named starter last week, was impressed by what he saw Sunday.
"I thought he played well today," McNabb said. "His poise, he was very relaxed in the huddle, didn't let anything get too big for him. I thought he did a great job leading us down to put more points on the board. I commend him for it, I really commend him."
McNabb said he did everything he could to help Ponder on the sidelines.
"I did, but I mean, you want to be able to give a guy his space," said the 13-year veteran. "I talked to him and we were able to kind of hash some things out, and he went back out there and played well. You have to pat him on the back for it."Needed to win
Adrian Peterson, who proved again that he is the best running back in the league, was satisfied with the Vikings' performance -- except that they didn't win.
Peterson put on a show by rushing for 172 yards, his best total since he had 180 at Cleveland in Week 1 of the 2009 season.
"Outside of us not winning. I felt like we progressed as a team," Peterson said.
"We're playing against the defending champs. We knew we were going to have to come out and keep swinging. Sometimes you get knocked down and you have to get back up. We knocked them down. It was just a fight until the end. They were able to come up with the last play.
"If we keep performing the way we did today and just finishing and making the extra play, I feel like we can get some Ws."
Like his teammates, Peterson liked what Ponder was able to accomplish.
"He did an excellent job. He really came out and showed what we can do," Peterson said. "He showed that he can help with this offense and be productive. I'm proud of him."D didn't play well
Jared Allen, who had two sacks and leads the NFL with 11 1/2, was certainly the Vikings' best defensive player on the field Sunday.
"We didn't play well enough. It's tough. You go out there and fight, but there has to be a reason we're going through this," Allen said. "You have to believe we're going to persevere eventually and God has a better plan for us."
The defensive end sang the praises of Rodgers.
"He's a good player. They're firing on all cylinders. Our guys fought hard and we just have to start closing games out," he said.
And then Allen brought up a subject that has been killing this team all year: penalties and mistakes at wrong times.Third-quarter mistakes
What killed the Vikings in what I thought was their best overall performance of the season, considering it came against the No. 1 team in the NFL, was a poor third quarter when they were outscored 20-0, with big mistakes on both sides of the ball playing a key part.
There was a missed coverage on the second play of the quarter, when Rodgers found wide-open Greg Jennings down the right sideline. Jennings was able to jog into the end zone for a 79-yard touchdown.
Ponder then had his worst stretch of the game when he threw interceptions on back-to-back drives, both being picked by the stellar Woodson. Those two picks led to short fields for the Packers and ultimately resulted in two Mason Crosby field goals, which helped Green Bay take a 33-17 lead through three quarters.
The Vikings outscored the Packers 10-0 in the final quarter. It might have been the best quarter they played all year.
With the score 33-27, the Vikings had their chance to pull out a victory in the final minutes but, like all their previous close games this season, it didn't happen.
Said linebacker Chad Greenway: "Defensively, if we could have gotten off the field and given Christian another shot, who knows what could have happened. Unfortunately we couldn't get off the field. It's a tough loss."
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. • email@example.com
|Los Angeles - LP: H. Ryu||4||FINAL|
|NY Yankees - WP: H. Kuroda||6|
|Baltimore - WP: C. Tillman||13||FINAL|
|Detroit - LP: R. Porcello||3|
|Miami - LP: J. Fernandez||1||FINAL|
|Arizona - WP: D. Hernandez||3|
|San Diego - LP: L. Gregerson||2||FINAL|
|San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner||4|
|Los Angeles||6||Bottom 7th Inning|
|Washington||1||Top 9th Inning|
|Kansas City||2||Bottom 7th Inning|
|Colorado||2||Bottom 7th Inning|
|NY Mets||3||Bottom 6th Inning|
|Pittsburgh||1||Bottom 7th Inning|
|Tampa Bay||3||Top 7th Inning|
|Oakland||0||Top 5th Inning|
|Chicago WSox||1||Top 4th Inning|
|Milwaukee||0||Top 5th Inning|
|Chicago Cubs||1||Top 4th Inning|
|Seattle - J. Saunders||9:05 PM|
|LA Angels - C. Wilson|
|Houston||0||2nd Half 40:00|
|Colorado||1||1st Half 8:00|
|Chivas USA||9:00 PM|
|Montreal||6/20/13 6:00 PM|
|Winnipeg||6/20/13 6:00 PM|
|Calgary||6/20/13 9:00 PM|
|Edmonton||6/21/13 9:00 PM|
|Montreal||6/27/13 8:00 PM|
|Aug 9 - vs. Houston||7 pm|
|Aug 16 - at Buffalo||6 pm|
|Aug 25 - at San Francisco||7 pm|
|Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee||7 pm|
|2013 regular season|
|Sep 8 - at Detroit||Noon|
|Sep 15 - at Chicago||Noon|
|Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland||Noon|
|Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London)||Noon|
|Oct 6 - Bye|
|Oct 13 - vs. Carolina||Noon|
|Oct 21 - at. NY Giants||7:40 pm|
|Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay||7:30 pm|
|Nov 3 - at Dallas||Noon|
|Nov 7 - vs. Washington||7:25 pm|
|Nov 17 - at Seattle||3:25 pm|
|Nov. 24 - at Green Bay||Noon|
|Dec 1 - vs. Chicago||Noon|
|Dec 8 - at Baltimore||Noon|
|Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia||Noon|
|Dec 22 - at Cincinnati||Noon|
|Dec 29 - vs. Detroit||Noon|