Hartman: Ponder on the mark as crunch time hits

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 31, 2012 - 8:57 AM

The quarterback found his wide receivers when he had to, and they came up big for him at the end.

hide

Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder

Photo: Jim Mone, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

For Christian Ponder, it will be a pass completion the Vikings quarterback will never forget, the throw that -- along with Adrian Peterson's closing 26-yard run -- set up the winning field goal that gave his team a victory over the Packers and put it into the playoffs.

The situation was this: The score was 34-34 at the two-minute warning, the Vikings had third-and-11 on their own 27, and the threat of having to punt and give Green Bay the ball back and a chance to win was looming over their heads.

At that point, Ponder completed certainly one of the most important passes of his life, a 25-yard throw to Michael Jenkins down the left sideline for a first down. They followed that with three Peterson runs -- the first two getting them into long field-goal territory for Blair Walsh, the third a big run that set up a 29-yard kick as time expired to win the game.

The Vikings were able to keep the ball out of the hands of great Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who -- considering the way he was going, with six scores in Green Bay's final seven possessions -- certainly would have put his team in position to kick a winning field goal.

Peterson was the big star of the game, rushing 34 times for 199 yards, just 9 yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson's record. But Ponder's hot day -- his 120.2 quarterback rating was the best of his NFL career -- had a lot to do with setting up the great runs by his superstar back.

Ponder, who for the fourth game in a row had led the Vikings to a score on their first possession, threw for 234 yards and three touchdowns Sunday. He paid tribute to the wide receivers, a position on the team that had been criticized by many time and time again for being a big weakness.

Obviously, the group isn't the same without the injured Percy Harvin. But what has helped the receivers' production has been the play of fourth-round draft choice Jarius Wright, who once again came up big late in the season.

Wright not only caught an 8-yard pass for a touchdown in the second quarter, but he also had a huge 65-yard catch in the fourth quarter after the Packers had tied the score the first time, setting up a go-ahead touchdown.

In the earlier Vikings loss at Green Bay, Ponder's two red-zone interceptions had played a big part in the loss. But Sunday the Vikings didn't turn the ball over once.

"It was a team victory," Ponder said. "All of the receivers were great. And what can you say about Adrian Peterson?"

Ponder said his play-action passes were so successful because the Packers' top goal was to stop Peterson.

"We saw a lot of blitzes up the middle and a lot of safeties down in the box to stop the run," Ponder said. "We knew that. It set up the play-action. A quarterback's best friend is the running game, and Adrian Peterson is a good one."

Ponder was asked if it has sunk in that the team is in the playoffs. "Not yet," he said. "I'm proud of it. But like I said before, we are not done. You are not going to be happy if you are sitting home next week."

Ponder has been the subject of a lot of criticism during some of his tough times this season, but he seemed to find himself over the final four games.

"You have to be mentally tough and have thick skin to play the position," Ponder said. "But everyone knows that and they kind of go into the position knowing that, and it comes with the territory. We [quarterbacks] do get a lot of credit when we win, and it's the opposite the other way.

"But I think as a quarterback you have to understand that you can never get too high or too low. Externally things are going to change, but I think what matters most is how we deal with things internally within the organization. It's a tough position. I enjoy it."

And he never enjoyed it more than Sunday.

Short of record

Peterson said it was a bittersweet feeling when he realized he was just short of breaking the NFL record.

"The first thing that came to my mind when I heard that I was 9 yards short was that, 'It is what it is. It wasn't meant to happen.' Not to say it doesn't hurt, because it does," Peterson said. "Ultimately, we came here tonight and accomplished the ultimate goal of getting a win and taking our team into the playoffs."

Asked if he knew any time during the game what his numbers were, Peterson answered: "I never knew. I wasn't worried about it. I told myself to come to this game and focus on one thing, winning and doing my job and to contribute to the running and passing game. If it happened it would come to me, but I didn't want to focus on it at all. I went out and played my game and accomplished what we wanted to. We're in now. We are in the playoffs. We get to fight another week."

Walsh big contributor

Walsh has to be one of the big stories in Vikings team history. Not many rookies have come in and done what the sixth-round draft pick has done.

Sunday, in addition to the winning field goal, he also kicked field goals of 54 and 37 yards besides booming the kickoffs into the end zone almost every time.

Walsh said the winning field goal, the one that put the Vikings in the playoffs, was just another one for him, and he didn't feel any different when he went on the field to try it.

"No, I just go out there and try another kick," he said. "I knew what it was. I am not going to ignore it and fight what the kick means, but you have to go out there and try to have fun with it. There is definitely less pressure when the game is tied [rather than trailing], but there is still a lot of pressure because you have to make it."

The story has been told before: Vikings coaches had scouting reports on the great junior year Walsh had at Georgia, but he slipped as a senior, making only 21 of 35 attempts. But that didn't keep the Vikings from drafting him and giving him the kicking job over veteran Ryan Longwell.

All he did as a rookie was make 35 of 38 field goals, set an NFL record by making 10 attempts from at least 50 yards and get selected to the Pro Bowl.

Walsh said he didn't have any idea he would have this great of a season when he was drafted.

"When I came in, all I wanted to be is dependable for the team, and I think I have done that so far," he said. "Now is when it really counts that we are in the playoffs."

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and Sundays at 9:30 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Dallas 6:00 PM
Orlando
Sacramento 6:00 PM
Indiana
Toronto 6:00 PM
Washington
Houston 6:30 PM
Detroit
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Atlanta
Cleveland 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Oklahoma City 7:00 PM
Memphis
Portland 7:30 PM
Milwaukee
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
San Antonio
Charlotte 8:00 PM
Denver
Phoenix 9:30 PM
Golden State
Washington 0 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 1
NY Islanders 1 FINAL
Detroit 4
Arizona 2 FINAL
Ottawa 7
Los Angeles 6:00 PM
Boston
Florida 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Carolina 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Toronto 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Dallas 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Columbus 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Edmonton 9:00 PM
Calgary
Chicago 9:30 PM
San Jose
Boston College 49 FINAL
Clemson 64
Western Mich 63 FINAL
Eastern Mich 69
NC State 81 FINAL
Georgia Tech 80
Wisconsin 74 FINAL
Iowa 63
Stony Brook 48 FINAL
New Hampshire 63
Notre Dame 72 FINAL
Pittsburgh 76
Providence 66 FINAL
St Johns 75
Davidson 70 FINAL
Saint Josephs 75
Xavier 82 FINAL
Seton Hall 90
Tulane 37 FINAL
Temple 55
Auburn 63 FINAL
Tennessee 71
Texas Tech 58 FINAL
West Virginia 77
Arkansas 56 FINAL
Florida 57
Penn State 58 FINAL
Illinois 60
Lipscomb 73 FINAL
Stetson 75
South Florida 71 FINAL
Tulsa 78
Bradley 58 FINAL
Indiana State 64
UMass Lowell 69 FINAL
Binghamton 76
Green Bay 62 FINAL
Cleveland State 76
Georgetown 67 FINAL
Creighton 40
Coll of Charleston 68 FINAL
Delaware 71
Villanova 68 FINAL
DePaul 55
Vermont 65 FINAL
Hartford 46
TCU 66 FINAL
Iowa State 83
Kennesaw St 51 FINAL
Jacksonville 50
Kansas State 57 FINAL
Kansas 68
Boston Univ 86 FINAL
Lehigh 89
Illinois State 48 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
Albany 77 FINAL
Maine 59
Butler 72 FINAL
Marquette 68
LSU 67 FINAL
Miss State 73
Mount St Marys 77 FINAL
Sacred Heart 71
Richmond 64 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 55
Virginia Tech 70 FINAL
Wake Forest 73
IUPU-Ft Wayne 75 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 65
Arkansas State 43 FINAL
Georgia State 74
Loyola-Maryland 77 FINAL
Army 71
Tenn Tech 53 FINAL
Belmont 71
Bethune-Cookman 61 FINAL
Florida A&M 44
Valparaiso 70 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 65
UAB 65 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 57
Idaho State 69 FINAL
North Dakota 80
Evansville 65 FINAL
Drake 70
Rutgers 64 FINAL
Indiana 72
Ball State 73 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 79
Southern U 59 FINAL
Alcorn State 51
UNC-Wilmington 76 FINAL
Drexel 85
Coastal Carolina 64 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 66
Morgan State 48 FINAL
Howard 64
William & Mary 84 FINAL
James Madison 65
North Carolina 64 1st OT 1:01
Louisville 74
Coppin State 81 2nd Half 0:46
MD-Eastern Shore 90
Ole Miss 67 FINAL
Missouri 47
Wichita State 54 FINAL
Northern Iowa 70
Loyola Marymount 76 FINAL
Pacific 71
Winthrop 66 FINAL
Radford 73
George Washington 55 FINAL
Rhode Island 59
Bryant 71 FINAL
Robert Morris 68
Long Island 64 FINAL
St Francis-NY 81
Fair-Dickinson 63 FINAL
St Francis-PA 68
Massachusetts 60 FINAL
Saint Louis 56
Georgia 50 FINAL
South Carolina 67
Central Conn St 55 FINAL
Wagner 86
SIU Edwardsville 54 FINAL
Eastern Ill 57
Ohio 69 FINAL
Central Mich 74
Eastern Ky 65 2nd Half 0:38
Morehead State 54
Incarnate Word 69 FINAL
Nicholls 58
Campbell 63 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 70
Vanderbilt 58 FINAL
Texas A&M 69
Western Carolina 61 2nd Half 5:58
UNC Greensboro 57
Detroit 49 2nd Half 11:38
Milwaukee 50
Idaho 72 2nd Half 4:15
Eastern Wash 65
Marshall 30 2nd Half
Louisiana Tech 44
Jackson State 33 2nd Half 15:33
Miss Valley St 51
Houston Baptist 22 2nd Half
Sam Houston St 32
Louisiana 34 1st Half 2:36
Texas State 25
Denver 29 2nd Half 16:41
South Dakota St 41
Oral Roberts 29 2nd Half
South Dakota 39
South Alabama 18 2nd Half
ULM 32
Texas 19 1st Half 6:23
Baylor 27
Citadel 22 1st Half 3:36
Chattanooga 36
Fresno State 17 1st Half 5:27
Colorado State 25
Yale 26 1st Half 2:03
Cornell 25
Ark-Pine Bluff 8 1st Half 11:40
Grambling St 13
Nebraska 16 1st Half 3:10
Minnesota 21
Purdue 21 1st Half 5:06
Northwestern 19
Alabama A&M 5:00 PM
Prairie View
Dartmouth 21 1st Half 3:17
Princeton 28
Pepperdine 17 1st Half 5:42
St Marys-CA 25
Delaware State 13 1st Half 10:00
SC State 17
Western Ky 32 1st Half 3:10
Southern Miss 21
Nevada 18 1st Half 5:09
Wyoming 21
Hampton 0 1st Half 20:00
Norfolk State 0
NC A&T 2 1st Half 17:11
Savannah State 2
Akron 6:00 PM
Bowling Green
Colgate 6:00 PM
Bucknell
FIU 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Brown 6:00 PM
Columbia
George Mason 6:00 PM
Duquesne
NC Central 6:00 PM
East Tenn St
Saint Peters 6:00 PM
Iona
Alabama 6:00 PM
Kentucky
Abilene Christian 6:00 PM
Lamar
Char Southern 6:00 PM
Liberty
Hawaii 6:00 PM
Long Beach State
New Orleans 6:00 PM
McNeese State
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Navy
Elon 6:00 PM
Northeastern
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
Harvard 6:00 PM
Penn
La Salle 6:00 PM
St Bonaventure
Furman 6:00 PM
Samford
TX A&M-CC 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
Duke 6:00 PM
Virginia
Mercer 6:00 PM
Wofford
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
USC Upstate 6:00 PM
North Florida
Longwood 6:00 PM
Presbyterian
Ark-Little Rock 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
SE Missouri St 7:00 PM
Austin Peay
CS-Northridge 7:00 PM
UC Riverside
Towson 7:00 PM
Hofstra
UT Martin 7:00 PM
Murray State
San Jose St 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Rice 7:00 PM
North Texas
Toledo 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
Oklahoma 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
San Francisco 7:00 PM
San Diego
Utah State 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Northwestern St 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
UCF 7:00 PM
SMU
Southern Ill 7:05 PM
Missouri State
Troy 7:15 PM
Texas-Arlington
Jacksonville St 7:30 PM
Tennessee St
Alabama State 7:30 PM
Texas Southern
Stanford 7:30 PM
Washington St
Santa Clara 8:00 PM
BYU
TX-Pan American 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Northern Ariz 8:00 PM
Southern Utah
Middle Tennessee 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Weber State 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
Chicago State 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
UC Santa Barbara 9:00 PM
UC Irvine
Memphis 9:00 PM
Gonzaga
Air Force 9:00 PM
UNLV
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
UC Davis
Seattle 9:00 PM
CS-Bakersfield
Montana State 9:05 PM
Portland State
Montana 9:05 PM
Sacramento St
Colorado 9:30 PM
UCLA
UMKC 9:30 PM
Utah Valley U
Mount St Marys 64 FINAL
Sacred Heart 71
Texas-El Paso 53 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 74
Arkansas State 61 FINAL
Georgia State 47
Bryant 84 FINAL
Robert Morris 87
Central Conn St 83 FINAL
Wagner 67
Fairleigh Dickinson 78 FINAL
St Francis-PA 60
Long Island 53 FINAL
St Francis-NY 62
Bethune-Cookman 70 FINAL
Florida A&M 57
Longwood 56 FINAL
Campbell 68
Charleston Southern 40 FINAL
Winthrop 77
Louisiana Tech 68 FINAL
Marshall 67
Ohio U 74 FINAL
Central Michigan 66
Western Mich 61 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 53
Coppin State 58 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 66
Incarnate Word 34 FINAL
Nicholls 67
Samford 46 FINAL
East Tenn St 48
Western Carolina 72 FINAL
Furman 84
Gardner-Webb 71 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 65
Liberty 58 FINAL
High Point 41
Presbyterian 46 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 59
Kent State 67 FINAL
Akron 74
Northern Ill 65 FINAL
Ball State 62
Houston 66 FINAL
Cincinnati 69
SIU-Edwardsville 65 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 48
Eastern Kentucky 58 FINAL
Morehead St 76
Holy Cross 67 FINAL
American Univ 61
Army 62 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 53
Niagara 53 FINAL
Manhattan 46
Lehigh 78 FINAL
Boston U 71
Navy 65 FINAL
Lafayette 60
Saint Josephs 57 FINAL
Davidson 52
Duquesne 56 FINAL
Fordham 46
George Washington 87 FINAL
George Mason 52
St Bonaventure 77 FINAL
Massachusetts 57
Milwaukee 64 FINAL
Youngstown St 87
Jacksonville 78 FINAL
Kennesaw St 64
North Florida 49 FINAL
USC Upstate 61
St Marys-CA 53 FINAL
Pepperdine 49
Nebraska Omaha 49 FINAL
IUPUI 68
Houston Baptist 67 FINAL
Sam Houston St 74
Mercer 59 FINAL
(25) Chattanooga 71
No Dakota State 52 FINAL
South Dakota St 82
Oral Roberts 70 FINAL
South Dakota 93
Southern Miss 63 FINAL
Western Ky 61
TX-San Antonio 57 FINAL
UAB 73
East Carolina 67 FINAL
Tulane 63
South Florida 57 FINAL
Memphis 53
Buffalo 75 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 53
New Mexico St 74 FINAL
TX-Pan American 71
Utah Valley U 58 FINAL
UMKC 61
Jackson State 71 FINAL
Miss Valley St 74
Louisiana 83 FINAL
Texas State 81
South Alabama 53 FINAL
ULM 55
Saint Louis 72 FINAL
Dayton 87
Cleveland State 72 FINAL
Oakland 64
Grand Canyon 76 FINAL
Chicago State 51
UCLA 65 FINAL
Oregon 67
Washington St 56 FINAL
(12) Stanford 75
Kansas State 41 FINAL
Texas Tech 38
UNLV 91 FINAL
Air Force 79
UCF 61 FINAL
Tulsa 70
UNC Greensboro 64 FINAL
Wofford 77
Delaware State 62 FINAL
SC State 64
San Diego State 70 FINAL
Utah State 59
Sacramento St 86 FINAL
Montana 94
Northern Colorado 52 FINAL
Weber State 59
Hampton 66 FINAL
Norfolk State 71
NC A&T 53 FINAL
Savannah State 48
Alabama A&M 64 FINAL
Prairie View 81
Toledo 64 FINAL
Bowling Green 48
Ark-Pine Bluff 56 FINAL
Grambling 75
Marist 63 FINAL
Iona 58
Bucknell 41 FINAL
Colgate 54
North Dakota 69 FINAL
Idaho State 75
Southern U 46 2nd Half 6:09
Alcorn State 45
Ark-Little Rock 58 FINAL
Georgia Southern 44
BYU 40 2nd Half 8:11
Santa Clara 44
Gonzaga 72 2nd Half 3:28
Portland 56
Pacific 80 2nd Half 4:04
Loyola Marymount 54
Abilene Christian 41 2nd Half
Lamar 35
Colorado State 43 2nd Half 3:26
Fresno State 46
New Mexico 59 2nd Half 4:54
San Jose St 58
UC Davis 30 2nd Half 13:03
UC Santa Barbara 35
San Diego 66 2nd Half 3:31
San Francisco 62
New Orleans 52 2nd Half 4:45
McNeese State 76
TX A&M-CC 45 2nd Half 3:49
Stephen F Austin 58
Old Dominion 62 2nd Half 6:29
Florida Atlantic 39
Tenn Tech 33 2nd Half 6:44
Belmont 51
Eastern Washington 63 2nd Half 4:32
Idaho 72
Stetson 71 2nd Half 6:33
Lipscomb 58
Washington 26 2nd Half 20:00
California 36
USC 15 2nd Half 20:00
(7) Oregon State 27
IUPU-Ft Wayne 36 2nd Half 15:21
Western Ill 35
Northwestern St 40 2nd Half 12:01
SE Louisiana 47
SE Missouri St 30 2nd Half
Austin Peay 34
Portland State 5:00 PM
Montana State
Morgan State 77 FINAL
Howard 64
Columbia 27 1st Half 5:41
Brown 30
Charlotte 30 1st Half 3:35
FIU 23
(19) Princeton 37 1st Half 4:55
Dartmouth 23
Penn 26 1st Half 6:01
Harvard 16
UT Martin 36 1st Half 3:45
Murray State 26
Troy 11 1st Half 6:00
TX-Arlington 22
Alabama State 0 1st Half 20:00
Texas Southern 0
Jacksonville St 0 1st Half 20:00
Tennessee St 0
Wyoming 6:00 PM
Nevada
Oklahoma St 6:00 PM
Iowa State
CS-Bakersfield 6:00 PM
Seattle
La Salle 6:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
Cal-Irvine 6:00 PM
Cal Poly
Fla Gulf Coast 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
Southern Utah 7:00 PM
Northern Ariz
Green Bay 7:00 PM
Illinois-Chicago
Cal State Fullerton 9:00 PM
Long Beach St
CS-Northridge 9:00 PM
Hawaii
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 NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who wins the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close