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.


Vikings continue to come up short with the long ball

Posted by: under Vikings, Bears, NFC, Leslie Frazier, Adrian Peterson, Antoine Winfield, Leslie Frazier, Percy Harvin Updated: December 12, 2012 - 1:17 PM

In an offensive performance Sunday that resembled a UFC ground-and-pound attack far more than a Cirque du Soleil aerial show, the Vikings had at least two opportunities to stretch the field deep against Chicago. Both times, they failed to capitalize.

The first came with 6:39 left in the second quarter when Christian Ponder used play action and uncorked a long ball to Devin Aromashodu on a post.

Ponder, who had slipped away from Lance Briggs on a blitz, threw a pretty ball. Yet just a split second before the pass arrived, Aromashodu seemed to stumble. The ball hit him in the right shoulder and bounced away.

Instead of a 45-yard touchdown that would have given the Vikings a 21-0 lead, the play went into the box score as an incompletion.

With a slumping young quarterback and the NFL’s least productive passing attack, that is exactly the kind of missed opportunity that drives Leslie Frazier crazy.

“That would have been a huge play for us on offense,” Frazier said. “It would have really changed the complexion of the game in a lot of ways. We didn’t connect.”

Frazier is anticipating similar opportunities to be available this weekend in St. Louis with the Rams likely to install the only defensive philosophy that makes sense against the Vikings, marching safeties close to the line of scrimmage for run help and using their corners in press coverage outside.

“And we’re going to need to hit some of those shots,” Frazier said. “We need to complete and make a catch down the field to get people to loosen up. The challenge will be there again this week.”

The wrong Wright

Ponder was to blame for the Vikings’ second failed bomb attempt in Chicago. That one, on the final series before halftime, was picked off by Bears safety Major Wright. Ponder had spotted an ideal match-up with speedy rookie Jarius Wright flying down the middle of the field with linebacker Nick Roach in his wake. But Ponder didn’t step into the throw, let it about 8-10 yards short and Major Wright easily slid over for the pick.

“I kind of threw off my back foot,” Ponder said. “It wasn’t a mistake to throw the ball. The decision was fine. I just have to throw the ball farther and let him run out and get it.”

Jarius Wright, Ponder admits, is much like Percy Harvin in that his speed makes him almost impossible to overthrow.

“I’ve got to trust that fact and just let the ball go,” Ponder said.

More honors for A.P.

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week after gashing Chicago for 154 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday. Peterson amassed 104 of those yards and both scores in the first quarter. He’s now up to 1,600 rushing yards for the season with 10 touchdowns and a per-carry average of 6.0 yards.

The next big step

Ponder talked briefly Wednesday about his need for greater pocket presence, a big part of his struggles the past month-and-a-half.

Too often the second-year quarterback has either vacated the pocket early or just generally appeared jittery as he tries to go through his reads.

Ponder acknowledges his need for greater patience.

“And when I do move in the pocket, not to move out but to find ways to find a different lane in the pocket to throw to and different things like that,” he said. “But staying in the cylinder rather than getting out of the pocket.”

Jefferson still not cleared

Cornerback A.J. Jefferson will miss this afternoon’s practice as he continues to go through testing for the concussion he suffered late in Sunday’s win. If Jefferson isn’t cleared to play this week, Josh Robinson would likely start alongside Antoine Winfield at cornerback with Marcus Sherels slotted to be the third corner in nickel packages.


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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 - WP: J. Teheran 1 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: C. Lee 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wood 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Pineda 2
Cleveland - WP: Z. McAllister 3 FINAL
Detroit - LP: A. Sanchez 2
Washington - WP: D. Storen 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: M. Dunn 3
Seattle 2 Bottom 9th Inning
Texas 1
Boston 1 Top 8th Inning
Chicago WSox 3
Kansas City 4 Bottom 8th Inning
Houston 4
Toronto 0 Postponed
Minnesota 0
Oakland 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
LA Angels 0
Colorado 1 Bottom 3rd Inning
San Diego 1
Los Angeles 0 Bottom 2nd Inning
San Francisco 0
Chicago 86 FINAL
Charlotte 91
Indiana 101 FINAL
Orlando 86
Atlanta 111 FINAL
Milwaukee 103
Dallas 105 1st OT 0:01
Memphis 106
Detroit 111 FINAL
Oklahoma City 112
Houston 100 FINAL
New Orleans 105
LA Lakers 113 FINAL
San Antonio 100
Brooklyn 85 FINAL
Cleveland 114
Philadelphia 100 FINAL
Miami 87
Utah 134 2nd OT 0:10
Minnesota 130
Washington 118 FINAL
Boston 102
Toronto 92 FINAL
New York 95
Golden State 18 1st Qtr 5:24
Denver 10
LA Clippers 6 1st Qtr 8:05
Portland 13
Phoenix 13 1st Qtr 5:09
Sacramento 13
Montreal 5 FINAL(OT)
Tampa Bay 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 4
Dallas 0 1st Prd :35
Anaheim 2
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2
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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

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