Ponder's blunders giving him fast, costly education

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 6, 2011 - 9:42 PM

Five things things to remember as the Vikings prepare for Detroit:

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Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was on the run against Denver. His two interceptions led to 10 points for the Broncos.

Photo: Genevieve Ross, Associated Press

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A snapshot look at the Vikings as they prepare for Sunday's game against the Lions at Ford Field.

Player in the spotlight

Rookie quarterback Christian Ponder has proven his resolve repeatedly, showcasing an impressive ability to bounce back after mistakes. On Sunday, after losing a fumble inside the Denver 10 in the first quarter and throwing an interception returned for a touchdown on the next series, Ponder kept battling and eventually threw for 381 yards with three touchdown passes.

The next step in Ponder's development, however, will be cutting back on the blunders from which he's frequently had to rebound.

In six starts, Ponder has turned the ball over nine times. Each of the past three games, he's also made major errors late. Against Denver, it was that costly interception thrown to Andre Goodman in a tie game with less than 2 minutes left.

Against Atlanta, Ponder failed to go through his reads and took a foolish if underpublicized sack on a first-and-goal play on the Vikings' final series. Versus the Raiders in Week 11, he threw an interception in the end zone with 8:10 left, thwarting an important drive in a 27-21 loss.

Coach Leslie Frazier said he firmly believes Ponder will learn from such errors.

"Eventually he's going to take us down for a game-winning drive," Frazier said.

At the very least, the rookie is gaining valuable experience in games that are relatively meaningless in the big picture.

Most pressing question

Can the Vikings find a way to get rookie tight end Kyle Rudolph more involved?

There's continued talk of the chemistry Rudolph has with Ponder. Yet in five full games together, the duo has connected only nine times on 15 attempts for 78 yards. Rudolph's 19-yard touchdown catch against Denver was incredible, a show of his body control and strong hands. But that was also the only pass thrown his way Sunday.

"Every guy he goes up against is a mismatch," Ponder said. "Kyle is so big and has such a large catching radius that I just try to put the ball up."

Ponder trusts Rudolph to make big plays. And in the season's final four games it will be up to offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave to increase Rudolph's role with an eye toward the future.

Keep an eye on ...

Guard Anthony Herrera returned to the lineup Sunday and gave the Vikings a nasty edge up front. It took Herrera time to get settled after missing the previous four games because of a knee injury. But his presence sparked an outing in which the Vikings rolled up a season-best 489 yards.

"He gives us some leadership, brings some intensity to our offensive line," Frazier said. "We missed him. ... He brings a different vibe to our offense and gives us something that [we] lack at times."

Scouting the Lions

After a blazing 5-0 start, Detroit has dropped five of its past seven, chewed up by a difficult schedule. In Sunday's 31-17 loss in New Orleans, the Lions continued a troubling trend of committing boneheaded penalties, few more costly than Titus Young's personal foul early in the third quarter. With the Lions trailing 24-7 at the time, Young's after-the-whistle slap of a Saints defender took Detroit from a third-and-1 situation at the New Orleans 3 to third-and-16 at the 18. The Lions had 11 penalties for 107 yards in Sunday's loss.

True or false

Calvin Johnson should make his fantasy football owners very happy this weekend: True.

If the Vikings had difficulty covering Denver's Demaryius Thomas, they have no shot against Johnson. The Lions' most dazzling playmaker has cooled off a bit in the past month -- by his standards at least. After totaling 47 catches for 804 yards with 11 touchdowns in the Lions' first eight games, Johnson has averaged six catches for 72 yards with only one TD since Detroit's Week 9 bye. The good news: He gets a second crack at a Vikings defense he lit up for 108 yards and two TDs in Week 3. The Vikings have seen six receivers total at least 100 yards and a TD in a game against them this season.

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New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Portland 0 Postponed
Brooklyn 0
Sacramento 0 Postponed
New York 0
Philadelphia 27 2nd Qtr 9:41
New Orleans 34
Minnesota 19 2nd Qtr 10:16
Oklahoma City 31
Orlando 31 2nd Qtr 10:28
Memphis 38
Boston 8:00 PM
Utah
Denver 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Army 49 2nd Half 8:15
American Univ 52
Wright State 54 2nd Half 8:20
Detroit 40
Syracuse 66 2nd Half 5:30
North Carolina 70
Cleveland State 49 2nd Half 3:16
Oakland 53
Delaware State 43 2nd Half 6:32
NC Central 44
High Point 54 2nd Half 4:20
Presbyterian 48
Howard 25 2nd Half
Bethune-Cookman 27
Coppin State 23 1st Half 7:00
NC A&T 32
Nicholls 31 2nd Half 16:02
Northwestern St 47
Hampton 27 2nd Half 19:44
SC State 31
Gardner-Webb 23 1st Half 3:58
Campbell 28
MD-Eastern Shore 4 1st Half 14:30
Florida A&M 8
Stephen F Austin 21 1st Half 7:38
Lamar 10
Central Arkansas 24 1st Half 6:35
New Orleans 38
Norfolk State 25 1st Half 4:52
Savannah State 17
TX A&M-CC 14 1st Half 4:30
SE Louisiana 20
Sam Houston St 29 1st Half 8:27
Abilene Christian 13
McNeese State 37 1st Half 3:50
Incarnate Word 27
Milwaukee 12 1st Half 3:22
Valparaiso 34
Alcorn State 7:30 PM
Alabama A&M
Southern U 7:30 PM
Alabama State
Prairie View 8:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Texas 8:00 PM
Iowa State
Texas Southern 8:00 PM
Miss Valley St
Long Island 85 FINAL
Bryant 88
Central Conn St 51 FINAL
St Francis-NY 49
Fairleigh Dickinson 0 Postponed
Sacred Heart 0
St Francis-PA 87 FINAL
Wagner 74
Delaware State 59 FINAL
NC Central 66
Howard 53 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 61
Coppin State 49 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 88 FINAL
SC State 53
Norfolk State 54 FINAL
Savannah State 56
MD-Eastern Shore 54 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Angelo State 55 FINAL
Abilene Christian 70
Samford 32 FINAL
(25) Chattanooga 49
Prairie View 83 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 66
Alcorn State 58 FINAL
Alabama A&M 55
Southern U 53 FINAL
Alabama State 49
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
Miss Valley St 52
(12) Texas A&M 44 2nd Half 9:01
(1) South Carolina 60
Robert Morris 65 2nd Half 2:27
Mount St Marys 44
East Tenn St 68 2nd Half 3:49
Mercer 62
Wofford 54 2nd Half 3:20
Furman 48
Morehead St 61 2nd Half 2:55
Tenn Tech 48
Illinois 53 2nd Half 4:09
Michigan 63
Quinnipiac 0 Postponed
Manhattan 0
Saint Peters 0 Postponed
Rider 0
(18) Miss State 8:00 PM
Auburn
(15) Nebraska 8:00 PM
(20) Iowa
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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