Short week forces Ponder to forget about awful day

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 23, 2012 - 6:41 PM

The QB can't dwell on his recent struggles with a game Thursday.

Perhaps no player in the NFL has welcomed the Sunday-to-Thursday quick flip the way Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder will this week.

Yes, Ponder has very little time to refocus and prepare before Thursday's home game against Tampa Bay. But on the bright side, that also means he won't have to wallow too long in the worry and frustration that has erupted after his miserable effort Sunday against Arizona.

Yes, the Vikings won 21-14. But had you ignored the final score and instead gauged momentum based solely on what is being said on sports talk radio and written in comments sections on the Internet, you might guess the 5-2 Vikings were in freefall.

Ponder's shaky Sunday -- his third in a row with multiple turnovers -- suddenly has sparked an inquiry, the conclusions of which are fairly easy to deduce.

Fifty-eight passing yards for an entire game? Not so good.

A quarterback rating of 35.5? Whoa.

One completion in seven second-half attempts? Yikes.

Still, most disconcerting Sunday were the two interceptions Ponder threw, a pair of giveaways in the second quarter that gave Arizona possession at the Vikings 16 and 29.

The Cardinals turned the first turnover into a four-play touchdown drive. The Vikings survived Ponder's second pick when Arizona kicker Jay Feely missed a 47-yard field goal as the first half ended.

Ponder never regrouped and neither did the offense, netting only 58 yards and two first downs after halftime.

Coach's support

Suddenly, legitimate questions have been raised about whether Ponder will experience another confidence slide similar to the one that doomed him in December of his rookie year.

The most panicky of the Chicken Little crowd might soon start making calls for Joe Webb.

All of which prompted Vikings coach Leslie Frazier to voice his unwavering support for Ponder on Monday.

Frazier praised Arizona's defensive schemes and ability to neutralize the Vikings' top receivers.

The coach also asserted that Ponder is far more mature and resilient as a quarterback than he was as a rookie.

"He's so different from a year ago when it comes to negative plays," Frazier said. "I've seen it and we've all seen it over these first seven games where he's had some bad plays and he's bounced back. ... [Sunday] was a tough day against a very, very good defense. But he's not the same Christian Ponder that he was a year ago. I'm convinced of it."

Sure, with seven turnovers in the past three games, Ponder might be seeing his outside approval rating plummeting.

Praised at the start of the month as an intelligent playmaker who doesn't try to do too much, Ponder is now being skewered by anxious fans and critics as turnover-prone and jumpy under pressure.

Frazier isn't worried.

"There are going to be some tough days for him," Frazier said. "He'll get better."

Taking no chances

Naturally, some of Sunday's offensive slippage can be traced back to a conservative second-half approach. For the fourth time this season, the Vikings built a double-digit lead. An interception return touchdown by Harrison Smith in the first minute of the third quarter provided a 21-7 advantage.

And with such a cushion, it's clear that at this point Frazier trusts his defense to seal a victory more than he trusts his developing quarterback.

Ponder's second-half numbers this season during games where the Vikings led by two scores after halftime:

• vs. San Francisco: 6-for-12, 55 yards, one TD.

• at Detroit: 6-for-11, 52 yards.

• vs. Tennessee: 12-for-14, 100 yards, two TDs, one interception.

• vs. Arizona: 1-for-7, 4 yards.

Remember, in Week 6, the Vikings sat in a 31-12 hole early in the fourth quarter and Ponder wound up throwing for a season-best 353 yards. But 212 of those plus two TD passes came in the final period with the Vikings in full catch-up mode.

So statistics don't always provide full context.

Still, Ponder will be the first to admit he struggled mightily against Arizona, with a flood of bad decisions and poor throws.

"I'm trying to do too many things," he said. "I'm getting out of the pocket and trying to force it to happen. I have to be a lot smarter and make better decisions for sure."

For better or worse, the opportunity to regroup comes quickly this week.

  • VIKINGS Up next: 7:20 p.m. Thursday vs. Tampa Bay • Mall of America Field • TV: NFL Network, Ch. 11 (100.3-FM, 1130-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Pittsburgh - LP: F. Liriano 0 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 4
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Odorizzi 0 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 3
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Hammel 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 3
St. Louis - LP: J. Kelly 1 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: W. Peralta 5
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 5 FINAL
Arizona - LP: B. McCarthy 2
Atlanta 1 Top 4th Inning
Philadelphia 0
Chicago Cubs 0 Top 4th Inning
NY Yankees 0
Cleveland 3 Bottom 3rd Inning
Detroit 1
Washington 0 Bottom 4th Inning
Miami 0
Seattle - F. Hernandez 7:05 PM
Texas - Y. Darvish
Boston - C. Buchholz 7:10 PM
Chicago WSox - J. Danks
Kansas City - J. Guthrie 7:10 PM
Houston - D. Keuchel
Toronto 0 Postponed
Minnesota 0
Oakland - T. Milone 9:05 PM
LA Angels - T. Skaggs
Colorado - J. De La Rosa 9:10 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Los Angeles - P. Maholm 9:15 PM
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong
Chicago 39 3rd Qtr
Charlotte 43
Indiana 44 2nd Qtr 0:13
Orlando 38
Atlanta 7:00 PM
Milwaukee
Dallas 7:00 PM
Memphis
Detroit 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Houston 7:00 PM
New Orleans
LA Lakers 7:00 PM
San Antonio
Brooklyn 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Miami
Utah 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Washington 7:00 PM
Boston
Toronto 7:00 PM
New York
Golden State 9:30 PM
Denver
LA Clippers 9:30 PM
Portland
Phoenix 9:30 PM
Sacramento
Montreal 1 2nd Prd
Tampa Bay 1
Columbus 1 1st Prd 5:47
Pittsburgh 0
Dallas 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Philadelphia 0 1st Half 33:00
Red Bull New York 0
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
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will you boo Jared Allen when he returns with the Bears?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close