Ponder, Vikings stand up to stingy 49ers defense in 24-13 win for San Francisco's 1st defeat

  • Article by: DAVE CAMPBELL , Associated Press
  • Updated: September 23, 2012 - 7:53 PM

view larger photos

  

MINNEAPOLIS - Christian Ponder didn't flinch against that feisty, swarming San Francisco defense.

Minnesota's flourishing young quarterback engineered a stunning victory after two of his more-decorated division peers fell well short. Ponder threw two touchdown passes to tight end Kyle Rudolph and ran for another score to help the Vikings hand the 49ers their first defeat, 24-13 on Sunday.

"It's big, more for people outside this organization than us. We're already confident in what we can do," said Ponder, who went 21 for 35 for 198 yards and, most importantly, no turnovers or sacks.

After a dominant start to their NFC North tour by decisively beating playoff teams Green Bay and Detroit, the 49ers (2-1) were beaten in every way by the team least likely to do so.

Aaron Rodgers of the Packers and Matthew Stafford of the Lions each had a pass picked off in their game, and they were harassed often by a defense that's been one of the NFL's best for the last several seasons. Ponder, in his second year and in the long shadow of Rodgers, Stafford and Chicago's Jay Cutler in this pass-driven division, deftly avoided the rush and made a bunch of clutch throws on the run.

"It's huge for the rest of our season. It's a springboard," Rudolph said.

The Vikings (2-1) began the game boldly with a fourth-and-goal touchdown pass by Ponder to his favorite target, Rudolph. They finished strong by forcing three turnovers and two punts in a wild, drawn-out fourth quarter due in part to more replacement referee blunders. Twice in a six-play span, the 49ers were allowed to withdraw a called timeout to challenge a play instead. The first one was reversed, a fumble by Toby Gerhart given to the 49ers after video review.

But the Vikings played so well that didn't matter. Neither did Gerhart's second fumble a few minutes later.

"You can't think that the game's just going to be given to you, especially when you guys are hyping us up and saying we're that good," 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman said. "Everyone is trying to knock us off. You just have to be prepared for it every single game."

Playing against his former team in the regular season for the first time, Randy Moss had a quiet afternoon with three catches for 27 yards. Frank Gore managed only 63 yards on 12 carries, and Alex Smith's franchise-record interception-free streak ended at 249 passes when Vikings rookie Josh Robinson picked him off with 2:18 left.

Donte Whitner dropped a sure interception and a potential touchdown midway through the fourth quarter after Vikings receiver Michael Jenkins slipped on third down. David Akers had a 43-yard field goal blocked by Letroy Guion late in the first half. And Smith lost a fumble on a late sack by Jared Allen.

"I know the Vikings have always played teams tough, especially when they're an underdog. That's Minnesota football," Moss said.

"We'll keep going back at it."

Smith finished 24 for 35 for 204 yards. He found tight end Vernon Davis on consecutive passes, the second one a 1-yard play-action fake, in the third quarter to pull within 17-13. The Vikings blew 17-0 and 20-0 halftime leads last September in losing consecutive home games to Tampa Bay and Detroit, and this was starting to set up the same way.

But with one third-and-goal pass by Ponder — Adrian Peterson was wide open next to Rudolph, who reached around Whitner for it — the lead was back to 11. The Vikings were on their way to burying that painful start to last year's 3-13 record. That drive was fueled by three 49ers penalties, including two unnecessary roughness calls, one by Dashon Goldson against Rudolph.

"Knock on wood, but he's playing some of the cleanest football I've ever seen somebody play at any age in the NFL," said Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway, who had two sacks. He added: "He just has that poise about him."

Peterson finished with 86 yards on 25 grueling carries, helping give Ponder some room to throw. The Vikings went 82 yards in 16 plays to start the game, but Peterson was stonewalled for 1 yard on second-and-goal at the 2 and no gain on third down. With inches to go, Ponder rolled left under pressure by Goldson and threw a floater off his back foot that Rudolph ran down in the corner of the end zone for a 7-0 lead. Rudolph had four catches on that drive.

Then Ponder used his feet, taking off three times for 34 yards on a second-quarter possession, including the 23-yard sprint that made it 14-3. Accelerating off a cut inside the 10, perhaps reminding 49ers fans inside the dome of their old favorite Steve Young, Ponder dived across the goal line for the final yard.

"There was a big running lane, and I figured that if my ... legs were fast enough, maybe I'd get there," Ponder said. "And I got there, so it was good."

NOTES: Moss moved past Tim Brown into fourth place on the NFL's all-time receiving list with 14,946 yards. ... Vikings FS Mistral Raymond's right ankle rolled awkwardly while trying to tackle Gore at the end of the first quarter. He left on a cart and was on crutches afterward. "From the naked eye, it looks like a very serious injury," Frazier said, "but I don't know all the details." ... 49ers LB Patrick Willis walked gingerly off the field with an injury to his lower right leg and DT Isaac Sopoaga hurt his lower left leg in the fourth quarter. Harbaugh said both players would be X-rayed and re-evaluated. ... The 49ers play the Bears at home on Nov. 19. ... Gore passed Roger Craig for the most career rushing attempts in 49ers history. ... Percy Harvin led the Vikings with nine catches for 89 yards.

___

Follow Dave Campbell on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DaveCampbellAP

___

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL

  • related content

  • Final gun report: Vikings 24, 49ers 13

    Sunday September 23, 2012

    The Vikings were heavy underdogs heading into Sunday's game with the 49ers. So how did they pull off such a convincing upset?

  • A 'railgating' smorgasbord for Vikings fans

    Monday September 24, 2012

    The game was the second treat for "railgating" fans who took advantage of new food trucks before kickoff.

  • Photo gallery: A new twist on tailgating

    Sunday September 23, 2012

    Vikings fans embrace 'railgating' before the game.

  • Vikings S Raymond carted off with right leg injury

    Sunday September 23, 2012

    Minnesota Vikings safety Mistral Raymond has been carted off the field with a right ankle injury and will not return.

  • The Minnesota Vikings met the San Francisco 49ers in an NFL game at Ma...

  • Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) ran in for a 23-yard touchdow...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tampa 6 FINAL
Philadelphia 2
LA Clippers 96 FINAL
Chicago 86
Cleveland 47 3rd Qtr
Houston 50
Golden State 5:00 PM
Boston
Philadelphia 5:00 PM
Indiana
Portland 5:00 PM
Sacramento
Charlotte 5:00 PM
Orlando
Oklahoma City 5:30 PM
LA Lakers
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Denver
Los Angeles 0 2nd Prd
Winnipeg 1
Tampa Bay 4:00 PM
Florida
Columbus 4:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Toronto 6:00 PM
Washington
Anaheim 7:00 PM
Dallas
St. Louis 8:30 PM
Vancouver
SMU 73 FINAL
Connecticut 81
Quinnipiac 65 FINAL
Manhattan 69
Fairfield 56 FINAL
Niagara 57
Marist 49 FINAL
Rider 59
Iona 60 FINAL
Saint Peters 68
Oregon State 51 2nd Half 5:13
California 62
South Florida 45 2nd Half 5:55
Houston 64
Marquette 30 2nd Half 15:05
Providence 50
Michigan State 20 1st Half 3:44
Wisconsin 26
Siena 2 1st Half 17:20
Monmouth 2
Pittsburgh 5:30 PM
Wake Forest
Oregon 6:00 PM
Stanford
Purdue 6:30 PM
Ohio State
Arizona State 7:30 PM
Colorado
Washington St 8:30 PM
UCLA
Georgetown 66 FINAL
Providence 81
Binghamton 50 FINAL
UMBC 73
Elon 65 FINAL
Hofstra 58
Virginia Tech 47 FINAL
Boston College 49
(8) Louisville 59 FINAL
Virginia 75
Texas 69 FINAL
West Virginia 76
Creighton 53 FINAL
Villanova 61
Seton Hall 85 FINAL
Butler 76
UNC-Wilmington 76 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 65
(5) Maryland 69 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 48
Saint Josephs 67 FINAL
La Salle 55
Louisiana Tech 53 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 60
Rhode Island 70 FINAL
Massachusetts 78
Richmond 55 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 49
Davidson 46 FINAL
Fordham 54
St Bonaventure 43 FINAL
Duquesne 51
George Mason 45 FINAL
(22) George Washington 80
Indiana 60 FINAL
(20) Rutgers 71
(12) Texas A&M 63 FINAL
LSU 80
Ole Miss 47 FINAL
(11) Miss State 55
Clemson 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 61
Maine 47 FINAL
New Hampshire 61
Vermont 48 FINAL
Albany 76
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Monmouth 48
Saint Peters 47 FINAL
Siena 64
(4) Notre Dame 67 FINAL
NC State 60
Wisconsin 62 FINAL
Penn State 56
Stony Brook 49 FINAL
Hartford 56
Northeastern 47 FINAL
William & Mary 62
St Johns 61 FINAL
Xavier 74
James Madison 74 FINAL
Delaware 71
Towson 45 2nd Half 0:24
Drexel 46
Illinois State 44 2nd Half 4:40
Bradley 46
Southern Ill 58 2nd Half 5:30
Loyola-Chicago 52
Northern Iowa 45 2nd Half 4:50
Wichita State 59
Minnesota 67 2nd Half 2:45
(17) Iowa 81
(15) North Carolina 48 2nd Half 8:58
(16) Duke 66
Alabama 48 2nd Half 7:20
Auburn 61
(9) Florida State 54 2nd Half 7:33
Miami-Florida 42
Arkansas 38 2nd Half 2:40
Missouri 57
Georgia 44 2nd Half 4:53
Florida 43
Dayton 78 2nd Half 4:30
Saint Louis 60
Drake 44 2nd Half 4:16
Missouri State 80
Colorado 16 1st Half 2:41
(10) Arizona State 19
(19) Stanford 25 1st Half 3:31
Oregon 25
Marquette 29 1st Half 3:51
DePaul 37
Southern Miss 24 1st Half 4:36
Texas-El Paso 29
Vanderbilt 4:00 PM
(6) Tennessee
(2) South Carolina 4:00 PM
(13) Kentucky
Utah 4:00 PM
Arizona
Ohio State 4:00 PM
Nebraska
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 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

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: With Adrian Peterson's suspension overturned, what should the Vikings do?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close