Ponder can't afford an alarming outing

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 8, 2012 - 10:06 AM
hide

Christian Ponder against the Packers

Photo: Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Our snapshot look at the Vikings as they prepare for Sunday's game against the Bears at Mall of America Field.

PLAYER IN THE SPOTLIGHT christian ponder

The Vikings quarterback called last week's stinker in Green Bay a "wake-up call." Actually, it was more like an annoying snooze alarm that Christian Ponder has been hitting and going back to sleep on over the past seven games.

When the Vikings were 4-1 heading to Washington, Ponder ranked 10th in the league with a 95.5 passer rating. He had completed 69 percent of his passes for 1,082 yards (216.4 per game), six touchdowns and two interceptions.

Today, he's 25th in passer rating (79.4). In his past seven starts, he's 2-5 while completing 58 percent of his passes for 1,219 yards (174.1), eight touchdowns and nine interceptions.

"I know that I need to play better," Ponder said.

Doing so is another matter. This is Ponder's 23rd career start. It's also the most important one to date. If he fails Sunday, the final three games this season won't mean as much in evaluating Ponder because the pressure of being in the playoff race will have disappeared.

MOST PRESSING QUESTION

Can the Vikings' defense hold on third down?

Better yet, can the Vikings force the Bears into third-and-long situations?

During their 28-10 rout of the Vikings two weeks ago, the Bears had 19 third downs. Fourteen of them were third-and-6 or shorter. They converted 11 of those situations (78.6) and were 0-for-5 on third-and-8 or longer, with one of those a kneel down to end the game.

To compensate for horrendous pass protection, the Bears have been running shorter routes with quicker dropbacks of late. It's a tactic that's less successful in third-and-long situations.

"Third-and-7, plus," said cornerback Antoine Winfield. "That's the goal we're looking for to get us off the field and give the offense a chance."

KEEP AN EYE ON

Running back Matt Forte

To force third-and-long situations, the Vikings have to stop running back Matt Forte on first down.

Forte had a quiet game two weeks ago, rushing for only 42 yards on 14 carries (3.0) before leaving with an ankle injury. He touched the ball 24 times for 96 yards and a touchdown in last week's loss to Seattle. He also should be a bigger presence on Sunday with Michael Bush (ribs) listed as questionable.

Two weeks ago, Forte ran the ball eight times on first down. Five times, he gained four or five yards. Second-and-5 is a dangerous down against the Jay Cutler-to- Brandon Marshall passing combo.

BEARS SCOOP

Love him or hate him, Jay Cutler wins football games. In fact, since Week 16 of the 2009 season, he has won more often than all but five other NFL quarterbacks.

Among QBs with a minimum of 10 starts during that stretch, Cutler is No. 6 with a winning percentage of .711. He's 27-11, including 8-3 this year.

New England's Tom Brady is first at .804 (37-9), followed by Atlanta's Matt Ryan (.783, 36-10), Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers (.773, 34-10), Baltimore's Joe Flacco (.739, 34-12) and Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger (.730, 27-10).

It's also wise not to get into a close game down the stretch with Cutler. His 134.9 fourth-quarter passer rating is 23.1 points higher than the next highest total, a 111.8 mark that belongs to Rodgers.

INJURIES, FINES, MOVES

The Bears have no sympathy for Percy Harvin landing on the Vikings' injured reserve. They'll play Sunday's game without linebacker Brian Urlacher (hamstring), cornerback Tim Jennings (shoulder) and receiver Earl Bennett (concussion).

• Everson Griffen of the Vikings was fined $15,750 for roughing the Packers' Rodgers on Sunday. Griffen was flagged for roughing Rodgers on a second-quarter play that nullified an interception by teammate Jared Allen. Linebacker Jasper Brinkley drew a $7,875 fine for grabbing the facemask of Randall Cobb on a play that drew no penalty flag.

• Former Chargers receiver Bryan Walters, who was with the Vikings in training camp this season, was one of three wideouts who worked out for the team on Friday.

• The Vikings promoted offensive tackle Troy Kropog from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. He takes the roster spot that opened when Harvin was placed on injured reserve.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cincinnati - M. Leake 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez
Minnesota - T. May 6:05 PM
Baltimore - M. Gonzalez
NY Yankees - C. Capuano 6:07 PM
Toronto - M. Buehrle
Philadelphia - D. Buchanan 6:10 PM
NY Mets - J. deGrom
Boston - A. Ranaudo 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - C. Archer
Miami - T. Koehler 6:35 PM
Atlanta - E. Santana
Cleveland - D. Salazar 7:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Vargas
Detroit - J. Verlander 7:10 PM
Chicago WSox - S. Carroll
Texas - S. Baker 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Oberholtzer
Chicago Cubs - K. Hendricks 7:15 PM
St. Louis - S. Miller
Colorado - C. Bergman 8:40 PM
Arizona - J. Collmenter
Oakland - J. Lester 9:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
Los Angeles - D. Haren 9:10 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Washington - J. Zimmermann 9:10 PM
Seattle - F. Hernandez
Milwaukee - W. Peralta 9:15 PM
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong
Atlanta 24 FINAL
Jacksonville 14
Detroit 23 FINAL
Buffalo 0
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 35
Kansas City 14 FINAL
Green Bay 34
NY Jets 7 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
St. Louis 13 FINAL
Miami 14
Carolina 10 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
New England 13 FINAL
NY Giants 16
Washington 24 FINAL
Tampa Bay 10
Baltimore 22 FINAL
New Orleans 13
Chicago 13 FINAL
Cleveland 33
Denver 27 FINAL
Dallas 3
Minnesota 19 FINAL
Tennessee 3
San Francisco 40 FINAL
Houston 13
Arizona 9 FINAL
San Diego 12
Seattle 31 FINAL
Oakland 41
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
BYU 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Houston 7:00 PM
Sporting Kansas City
Ottawa 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Minnesota 9:00 PM
Phoenix
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 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