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Continued: Ponder on Ponder: Vikings QB critiques his own play

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Last update: September 8, 2013 - 9:29 AM

2. He isn’t accurate!!

First-and-10 at Vikings 21, 12:14 left in game, score tied 27-27

 

The play: One snap after the Packers tied the score, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave sent out three tight ends but called for the sneaky-fast Jarius Wright to run a deep double move on the numbers down the left side. Ponder, whose arm was stiffening from the Burnett hit, again executed the play-action to Peterson. Against a three-man rush, Ponder hits Wright on his fingertips in stride, half a step behind the defender, from 52 yards away. It went for a season-long 65 yards. Six plays later, Ponder hit Michael Jenkins on a 3-yard touchdown pass.

Ponder says: “Again, look at the protection. I have all day back there. And Jarius runs great routes. He’s a guy who you know exactly where he’s going to be. And he’s got the speed to get downfield. With this route, I think it was off the in cut. So he was going to sell the in cut and then get back and run straight up the numbers. If you look, the ball is caught right on the numbers.”

Wright says: “That play shows what a great play looks like when two guys really trust each other. And, if you ask me, with Adrian running the way he was running that day, this is what’s supposed to happen.”

The obvious question: On his next pass attempt, Ponder rolls right on second-and-goal from the 12. Jenkins is wide open in the end zone, but the ball sailed right and was incomplete. Question: “How can you hit Wright’s fingertips in stride from over half a field away, yet miss badly on a short pass to a wide-open receiver?”

Ponder says: “It’s all fundamentals. Whether it’s overextending or I get too wide with my feet, it’s fundamentals that cause accuracy problems. The one to Jenkins, I was moving right and really didn’t set my feet and I missed him. It’s something I continue to work on.”

3. He won’t just let loose!!!

Third-and-goal at the 3, 8:06 left, scored tied 27-27

 

The play: Protection breaks down this time as Ponder scrambles to his left. He’s ad-libbing and off-balance when he throws a rope through a small window to Jenkins for a 3-yard touchdown. Free safety M.D. Jennings reads the play, closes quickly and nearly intercepts the ball.

Ponder says: “We’re trying to isolate our tight end [Kyle Rudolph] here on what we call a Zoar route [over the middle]. But they’re in man coverage and we weren’t able to win the route. So I’m thinking, OK, no one is open. Buy time and let someone try to get open. We practice this a lot. It’s the scramble drill. Everyone sees me working left, so Jenkins does a good job. He knows I’m running left and even though his route is to the right, he works back around and finds an open space. [Jennings] is not in my sight when I make the throw, and I think he takes the ball if I hadn’t thrown it in there hard and Jenkins hadn’t come back for it.”

QB coach Craig Johnson says: “That’s one of those plays where Christian stepped up and said, ‘You know what, I’m ready to face the music if something bad happens,’ which it very well could have on that play. He was inches away from being the hero or the goat. I don’t want any player ever playing scared. If you trust that that’s your proper read and that’s where the ball needs to go, you go for it. That’s the fine line for every quarterback. It’s throwing with conviction as opposed to being reckless and throwing and just hoping. He let loose and threw the ball exactly where he wanted it.”

4. He won’t let plays develop!!!!

Third-and-11 at Vikings 27, 2:00 left in game, score tied 34-34

 

The play: Ponder slide-steps in the pocket and resists the check-down while waiting for Jenkins to find a soft spot in the prevent defense. With eight defenders in coverage, Ponder manages to coax one more throw out of his right elbow. Jenkins catches the ball for a 25-yard gain. Four Peterson runs later, Blair Walsh kicks the game-winning 29-yard field goal as time expires.

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