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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Baltimore 2 FINAL
Detroit 15
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Northeastern 1 FINAL
Boston 2
Miami-Fla 1 FINAL
Miami 7
Pittsburgh 8 FINAL
Toronto 7
San Francisco 4 FINAL
Oakland 9
Cleveland 0 FINAL
Cincinnati 10
Boston College 0 FINAL
Boston 1
Arizona State 0 Bottom 7th Inning
Arizona 2
Boston 6:00 PM
Cleveland
LA Lakers 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Sacramento 6:00 PM
New York
Houston 6:30 PM
Atlanta
Utah 7:00 PM
Memphis
Washington 7:00 PM
Chicago
Milwaukee 8:00 PM
Denver
Nashville 0 1st Prd 19:45
New Jersey 0
Calgary 0 1st Prd 19:47
Philadelphia 0
Washington 0 1st Prd 20:00
Columbus 0
Buffalo 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Toronto 6:30 PM
Florida
Ottawa 7:00 PM
Minnesota
NY Islanders 7:30 PM
Dallas
Anaheim 8:00 PM
Arizona
Los Angeles 8:30 PM
Edmonton
San Jose 9:00 PM
Vancouver
Ole Miss 0 1st Half 16:44
Alabama 8
Eastern Mich 0 1st Half 18:25
Ball State 5
Kent State 0 1st Half 19:15
Bowling Green 2
Ohio 4 1st Half 15:58
Buffalo 4
Georgetown 5 1st Half 15:54
Butler 5
Toledo 14 1st Half 15:25
Central Mich 7
Rhode Island 2 1st Half 18:25
Dayton 0
Youngstown St 2 1st Half 19:32
Detroit 0
North Carolina 6 1st Half 16:02
Georgia Tech 5
Loyola-Maryland 0 1st Half 18:55
Holy Cross 2
Iowa 6:00 PM
Indiana
Akron 6:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
Army 2 1st Half 18:44
Navy 5
Maryland 7 1st Half 17:25
Rutgers 2
Kennesaw St 0 1st Half 20:00
USC Upstate 0
Jacksonville 2 1st Half 18:58
Fla Gulf Coast 2
Lipscomb 0 1st Half 19:40
Northern Ky 0
Stetson 6:30 PM
North Florida
Wright State 7:00 PM
Ill-Chicago
Western Mich 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
Nebraska Omaha 7:00 PM
North Dakota
Houston Baptist 7:00 PM
Abilene Christian
NC State 8:00 PM
Clemson
Texas A&M 8:00 PM
Florida
Kentucky 8:00 PM
Georgia
West Virginia 8:00 PM
Kansas
Auburn 8:00 PM
Missouri
Michigan 8:00 PM
Northwestern
Villanova 8:15 PM
Creighton
Longwood 55 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 63
Charleston Southern 39 FINAL
Presbyterian 47
Coastal Carolina 27 2nd Half
UNC-Asheville 36
NJIT 0 1st Half 20:00
UMass Lowell 0
West Virginia 7:00 PM
Kansas State
TCU 7:00 PM
Texas
Fresno State 8:00 PM
Air Force
San Jose St 8:00 PM
Boise State
Nevada 8:00 PM
Colorado State
UNLV 8:00 PM
San Diego State
Wyoming 8:00 PM
Utah State
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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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