Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Ponder missed a wide open Peterson on second TD toss

Posted by: under Vikings, Leslie Frazier, Adrian Peterson, Leslie Frazier Updated: September 24, 2012 - 3:36 PM
Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder realizes he probably had an easier throw to make than the 2-yard touchdown pass he lobbed to Kyle Rudolph early in the fourth quarter Sunday. Running back Adrian Peterson was uncovered and wide open from the snap. That was apparent to everyone watching on TV and inside the Metrodome but Ponder didn’t notice Peterson until looking back at the film.
 
“There was no one there; it was unbelievable,” Ponder said Monday afternoon. “I mean, they completely dropped coverage. I wish I knew when they’d drop coverage like that.”
 
Peterson apparently didn’t say anything to Ponder after the play.
 
“But you could see him waving his arms on the film,” Ponder said. “I think if we wouldn’t have completed that pass, he probably would have been a little upset.”
 
Ponder provided plenty to build on during Sunday’s 24-13 upset of San Francisco. He finished the day 21-for-35 for 198 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for 33 yards and a score.
 
Lane control
 
One of the few blemishes on Sunday’s win was the Vikings’ kickoff coverage in the second half with San Francisco’s Kyle Williams opening the second half with a 94-yard return down to the Minnesota 14. Williams later added a 50-yard return. That was a rare lapse for a kickoff unit that in Weeks 1 and 2 hadn’t allowed a return past the 25.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier diagnosed the breakdown Monday.
 
“We didn’t stay in our lanes,” he said. “We had some guys who were not where they should have been. They didn’t take on blocks the way they needed to take on blocks. It cost us and it is something that we have to get fixed. I’m sure when our next opponent looks at the tape, they’re going to come, probably their first return of the game is going to be that same return. So we will have to make sure we are where we are supposed to be and that we are separating from blocks. We didn’t do a good job of that on both of those long returns.”
 
Mind over matter
 
Frazier reiterated Monday just how adamant the coaching staff and the Vikings veterans were last week in calling for the team to be more aggressive and physical. The heightened intensity certainly paid dividends.
 
Said Frazier: “We’ve got to keep emphasizing that that’s the style that we want to play. I think our guys bought into that and now I think we have to keep emphasizing that as a staff and they’ve got to believe in it and feel like they don’t have to play any different way just because someone has success doing it this way or that way. This is how we are successful. I think this will go a long way in helping our guys believe this is the way we have to play.”

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