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

Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Washington 102 FINAL
New York 91
Oklahoma City 114 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Cleveland 91 FINAL
Miami 101
LA Lakers 93 FINAL
Chicago 113
Golden State 86 FINAL
LA Clippers 100
DePaul 69 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 72
Ohio 58 FINAL
Nebraska 71
Colorado 66 FINAL
Hawaii 69
George Washington 60 FINAL
Wichita State 54
Central Mich 48 FINAL
Western Ky 49
Fresno State 6 FINAL
Rice 30
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
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 Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close