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 eery 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

Philadelphia 24 FINAL
Washington 27
San Diego 38 FINAL
San Francisco 35
Minnesota 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Phoenix 99 FINAL
New York 90
Portland 114 FINAL
New Orleans 88
Utah 86 FINAL
Charlotte 104
Atlanta 104 FINAL
Houston 97
San Antonio 93 FINAL
Dallas 99
Indiana 73 FINAL
Denver 76
Milwaukee 102 FINAL
LA Clippers 106
Arizona 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Colorado 5 FINAL
Buffalo 1
Philadelphia 7 FINAL
Toronto 4
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Montreal 4
Washington 4 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Tampa Bay 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 3
Florida 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
NY Rangers 3 FINAL(SO)
Carolina 2
Chicago 2 FINAL(SO)
Columbus 3
Nashville 6 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 5
Calgary 2 FINAL(OT)
Vancouver 3
St. Louis 2 FINAL(OT)
San Jose 3
VA Commonwealth 68 FINAL
Cincinnati 47
Charlotte 78 FINAL
Georgetown 81
SMU 62 FINAL
Michigan 51
Louisville 76 FINAL
Western Ky 67
Mount St Marys 45 FINAL
American Univ 46
Abilene Christian 33 FINAL
Boise State 77
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
Duquesne 79
South Alabama 65 FINAL
IUPUI 71
Ohio State 74 FINAL
North Carolina 82
Massachusetts 65 FINAL
Providence 85
Syracuse 77 FINAL
Villanova 82
Citadel 61 FINAL
Virginia Tech 64
Belmont 73 FINAL
Fairfield 61
St Bonaventure 69 FINAL
Binghamton 51
Montreat 64 FINAL
Campbell 90
Delaware 74 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 76
South Florida 62 FINAL
Florida State 75
Vanderbilt 60 FINAL
Georgia Tech 65
SC State 71 FINAL
Houston 63
Missouri 59 FINAL
Illinois 62
Truett-McConnell 55 FINAL
Jacksonville 84
Toledo 83 FINAL
McNeese State 69
Elon 71 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 64
Drexel 68 FINAL
Penn State 73
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Rutgers 68
Albany 64 FINAL
Yale 60
PSU-Beaver 74 FINAL
Longwood 106
Eastern Ill 60 FINAL
Indiana State 56
Indiana 82 FINAL
Butler 73
Marshall 58 FINAL
Arkansas State 67
Lafayette 69 FINAL
Kansas 96
Oral Roberts 63 FINAL
Memphis 78
Western Mich 61 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Delaware State 70 FINAL
Oregon 83
Fla Atlantic 56 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
Arkansas Tech 57 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 94
Howard Payne 50 FINAL
Texas-Arlington 89
UMBC 66 FINAL
Kennesaw St 53
St Josephs (IN) 54 FINAL
Chicago State 76
Eastern Mich 77 FINAL
Missouri State 65
UCLA 44 FINAL
Kentucky 83
UC Davis 81 FINAL
Air Force 75
Houston Baptist 67 FINAL
UC Riverside 78
Davidson 80 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 68
USC Upstate 53 FINAL
Miss State 51
NC Central 94 FINAL
Miss Valley St 60
Illinois State 77 FINAL
Murray State 89
Louisiana 85 FINAL
Northwestern St 89
Oakland 77 FINAL
Pittsburgh 81
Detroit 55 FINAL
Rhode Island 69
Presbyterian 60 FINAL
UT Martin 77
Monmouth 74 FINAL
Wagner 66
Southern U 39 FINAL
Wyoming 57
Iowa State 83 FINAL
Drake 54
Wake Forest 50 FINAL
Florida 63
High Point 80 FINAL
James Madison 71
Texas Southern 71 FINAL
Michigan State 64
New Hampshire 60 FINAL
Sacred Heart 73
Northeastern 78 FINAL
Santa Clara 72
Huston-Tillotson 56 FINAL
Texas State 90
Purdue 63 FINAL
Notre Dame 94
Prairie View 44 FINAL
Sam Houston St 61
Xavier 88 FINAL
Auburn 89
Bluffton 53 FINAL
Akron 92
NJIT 84 FINAL
Central Conn St 76
Hofstra 77 FINAL
Columbia 82
Boston Univ 62 FINAL
Dayton 78
Iona 81 FINAL
George Mason 86
Valparaiso 75 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 72
Texas A&M 64 FINAL
Kansas State 71
Morgan State 69 FINAL
Manhattan 73
Saint Josephs 75 FINAL
Marist 58
East Carolina 54 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 66
Richmond 65 FINAL
Pepperdine 63
La Salle 67 FINAL
Towson 53
Incarnate Word 110 FINAL
UMKC 104
CS-Bakersfield 59 FINAL
Idaho State 50
Iowa 44 FINAL
Northern Iowa 56
Milwaukee 56 FINAL
SIU Edwardsville 61
Long Beach State 68 FINAL
Texas 78
TX-San Antonio 57 FINAL
TCU 88
SE Missouri St 67 FINAL
Arkansas 84
Lehigh 84 FINAL
Arizona State 81
New Mexico 69 FINAL
New Mexico St 67
Oklahoma 67 FINAL
Washington 69
Utah Valley U 61 FINAL
Weber State 73
Jacksonville St 60 FINAL
Northern Colorado 69
St Edwards 55 FINAL
Grand Canyon 81
NC State 69 FINAL
West Virginia 83
TX A&M-CC 75 FINAL
CS-Northridge 68
Cal Poly 50 FINAL
Gonzaga 63
Fresno State 68 FINAL
Pacific 71
Montana State 60 FINAL
Portland 87
Ball State 57 FINAL
San Diego St 70
South Dakota St 68 FINAL
Utah State 65
Stanford 77 FINAL
BYU 79
Utah 59 FINAL
UNLV 46
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
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 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Livingstone 77 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 81
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Dartmouth 70
Georgia Tech 65 FINAL
St Francis-NY 59
Auburn 49 FINAL
St Johns 56
East Tenn St 56 FINAL
Jacksonville St 57
Western Mich 71 FINAL
Detroit 57
Cal-Irvine 42 FINAL
Wright State 80
Gardner-Webb 47 FINAL
Kennesaw St 50
(7) Stanford 40 FINAL
(11) Tennessee 59
Alabama A&M 47 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Central Michigan 45 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 80
Nebraska Omaha 50 FINAL
Creighton 67
FIU 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 83
Houston 65 FINAL
Nicholls 47
St Thomas Aquinas 45 FINAL
Army 70
St Bonaventure 72 FINAL
Niagara 60
Texas State 57 FINAL
Stetson 75
George Mason 65 FINAL
ULM 53
Grambling 38 FINAL
Kansas State 61
Missouri 79 FINAL
Wake Forest 64
Robert Morris 59 FINAL
Cornell 70
Air Force 44 FINAL
Abilene Christian 80
Hampton 53 FINAL
James Madison 85
American Univ 64 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 52
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 68
Tenn Tech 49 FINAL
NC A&T 54
Presbyterian 45 FINAL
NC Central 33
Penn 58 FINAL
Drexel 67
Lipscomb 38 FINAL
Xavier 62
Vermont 40 FINAL
Green Bay 60
Charleston Southern 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 80
Ohio Christian 62 FINAL
Akron 97
Jacksonville 62 FINAL
Murray State 80
(17) Rutgers 66 FINAL
Iona 58
Indiana 88 FINAL
Oakland 61
Indiana State 64 FINAL
SMU 55
Denver 51 FINAL
Purdue 65
TX-San Antonio 48 FINAL
Texas Tech 64
UCF 57 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 79
Campbell 66 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 55
Florida A&M 67 FINAL
SE Louisiana 69
Northwestern St 61 FINAL
Jackson State 62
Lehigh 61 FINAL
Arizona State 81
Valparaiso 65 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 77
Liberty 60 FINAL
Minnesota 74
Wofford 60 FINAL
North Florida 68
Montana State 61 FINAL
Washington St 82
Marshall 56 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 69
Morgan State 40 FINAL
Chattanooga 55
Northeastern 65 FINAL
Harvard 67
Furman 51 FINAL
(15) Georgia 58
(18) Michigan State 65 FINAL
(9) Baylor 84
Ohio U 52 FINAL
Massachusetts 59
Prairie View 48 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 86
Toledo 64 FINAL
Southern Ill 48
High Point 57 FINAL
(12) Nebraska 83
Winthrop 20 FINAL
Wichita State 66
William Jewell 59 FINAL
UMKC 51
Louisiana Tech 52 FINAL
Utah 67
Southern Utah 51 FINAL
Gonzaga 70
Hawaii 85 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 76
San Jose St 62 FINAL
San Francisco 77
CS-Northridge 65 FINAL
San Diego State 54
Norfolk State 36 FINAL
East Carolina 65
Saint Peters 49 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 59
Arizona 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 72
Northwestern 92 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 44
Oral Roberts 52 FINAL
Wisconsin 70
Florida Atlantic 44 FINAL
New Mexico St 57
La Salle 76 FINAL
Georgia State 68
(16) Oregon State 73 FINAL
Nevada 50
Sacred Heart 72 FINAL
Villanova 49
Delaware 59 FINAL
Cincinnati 67
Troy 75 FINAL
Tennessee St 71
Saint Louis 68 FINAL
Utah Valley U 66
Washington 74 FINAL
UC-Riverside 71
Pacific 43 FINAL
Long Beach St 53
Old Dominion 69 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 63
Austin Peay 62 FINAL
Montana 83
Lewis-Clark State 48 FINAL
Idaho 74
(21) Miss State 73 FINAL
Illinois-Chicago 36
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 Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do Sunday against Miami?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close