Ponder shaky at first, ends on solid footing

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 9, 2012 - 11:52 PM

After starting out looking like a wide-eyed rookie, he rose to the challenge as the game's pressure tightened -- a promising sign.

hide

QB Christian Ponder on Sunday showed the kind of leadership and poise the Vikings were looking for when he became a starter.

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was, quite frankly, awful for the first 27 minutes of Sunday's 26-23 overtime victory over the Jaguars at Mall of America Field.

He had completed three of seven passes for 32 yards and should have been intercepted by safety Chris Prosinski on an ugly throw over the middle on his second pass of the game. The Vikings trailed 9-0 and the defense was exhausted following three consecutive drives that netted 34 yards and one first down.

"I don't know that I was uptight," Ponder said. "There were some nerves like there would be for anyone. Any time you're playing in the first game of the year, there's going to be a little nerves."

The nerves began to subside on a simple, short screen to Percy Harvin. Then another short screen to Harvin. Then another. Three consecutive completions netted 32 yards and led to Adrian Peterson's 3-yard touchdown with 45 seconds left in the first half.

"[Ponder] just got comfortable," said Harvin, who caught six passes for 84 yards. "We tried to get him into some short passing situations to get his confidence up. And we were able to do that."

After Ponder's 3-for-7 start, he completed 17 of 20 passes for 238 yards, no touchdowns, a 105.5 passer rating and one turnover, a fumble inside the Vikings 20-yard line.

"Christian has grown so much," coach Leslie Frazier said. "He's growing up right before our eyes, and we really feel like he's the guy who can lead us to big places, and today was a big step towards seeing that happen."

It was Ponder's first victory at home as a starter. He's 3-8 as a starter, although he left last year's victory at Washington with the Vikings trailing. Sunday's victory also marked the second time Ponder has led a game-winning comeback in regulation or overtime.

From the time the Jaguars took a 23-20 lead with 20 seconds left, Ponder completed five of five passes for 60 yards to four different receivers. Two of Devin Aromashodu's three catches were a 26-yarder with 14 seconds left in regulation and a 17-yarder to the Jacksonville 25-yard line in overtime. Blair Walsh kicked the 38-yard field goal that won the game four plays later.

"[Jacksonville] played pretty soft in coverage," Ponder said. "I think they were trying to make us run the ball and make me be patient and force balls downfield. They were definitely softer on that last drive in the fourth quarter."

Tight end Kyle Rudolph, who caught five passes for 67 yards, said the slow start wasn't just Ponder's fault.

"We all came out slow and struggling," Rudolph said. "But at the end, Christian was as poised as we thought he'd be. There's 20 seconds left and we needed a field goal. We work on that every day in practice, all the time. Christian executed it exactly the way he's supposed to."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Arrieta 4
Houston - WP: T. Sipp 5 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: C. Allen 1
San Francisco - WP: T. Hudson 10 FINAL
Washington - LP: D. Fister 3
St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright 4 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: K. Kendrick 5
Chicago WSox - LP: D. Webb 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: D. Robertson 4
Tampa Bay - WP: D. Smyly 8 FINAL
Toronto - LP: M. Stroman 0
Atlanta - WP: D. Hale 3 FINAL
Cincinnati - LP: M. Parra 1
Seattle - WP: D. Leone 5 FINAL
Boston - LP: K. Uehara 3
Kansas City - WP: Y. Ventura 6 FINAL
Texas - LP: C. Lewis 3
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Locke 8 FINAL
Milwaukee - LP: Y. Gallardo 3
Detroit - LP: R. Ray 6 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: R. Pressly 20
Miami - WP: H. Alvarez 13 FINAL
Colorado - LP: F. Morales 5
San Diego - LP: O. Despaigne 1 FINAL
Arizona - WP: J. Collmenter 5
LA Angels - LP: J. Grilli 3 FINAL
Oakland - WP: S. Gray 5
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 2 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: D. Haren 6
Carolina 7 FINAL
New England 30
NY Giants 35 FINAL
NY Jets 24
Jacksonville 12 FINAL
Detroit 13
Oakland 21 FINAL
Green Bay 31
Chicago 6 FINAL
Seattle 34
Tampa Bay 3:30 PM
Buffalo
Tennessee 6:00 PM
Atlanta
Dallas 6:00 PM
Miami
Washington 6:30 PM
Baltimore
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Indianapolis
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Kansas City
St. Louis 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Houston 8:00 PM
Denver
San Diego 8/24/14 3:00 PM
San Francisco
Cincinnati 8/24/14 7:00 PM
Arizona
Atlanta 8/28/14 5:00 PM
Jacksonville
Detroit 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Indianapolis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Kansas City 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
St. Louis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 8/28/14 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 8/28/14 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Denver 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Dallas
Minnesota 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tennessee
San Francisco 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 8/28/14 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:00 PM
ULM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
UCF 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Penn State
Real Salt Lake 1 FINAL
FC Dallas 2
Montreal 16 FINAL
Winnipeg 24
Toronto 3:00 PM
Edmonton
Calgary 8/24/14 2:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8/24/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 2:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Chicago 80 FINAL
Atlanta 77
Los Angeles 72 FINAL
Phoenix 75
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

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 pm
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who would you rather have on your team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close