Vikings snapshot: Team needs the Ponder from late last season vs. Packers

  • Updated: October 26, 2013 - 12:46 AM

Vikings fans hope to see the Christian Ponder who quarterbacked a victory over the Packers last season, not the guy who is 0-3 as a starter this year.

Photo: CHARLES REX ARBOGAST • Associated Press,

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Player in the spotlight

Christian Ponder, Vikings

Ponder’s performance against the Packers in the final regular-season game last year (career-high 120.2 quarterback rating) spawned optimism he was set for a consistently strong 2013. Three shaky performances, a fractured rib and a one-game benching later, he returns to start because Josh Freeman had concussion-like symptoms.

“I was playing with a lot of pressure on myself before, and never felt in sync,” said Ponder, admitting he was stung by the benching. “Now is the opportunity to take that deep breath and go out and have fun again.”

Fun would be a repeat of that 37-34 victory Dec. 30 that earned the Vikings a playoff berth. Fun would not be what happened four weeks earlier, when a 23-14 loss at Green Bay was punctuated by two costly interceptions.

Keep an eye on

The Vikings defensive backfield is without safety Harrison Smith (turf toe), but coach Leslie Frazier and defensive coordinator Alan Williams both thought the backfield acquitted itself well in Monday’s 23-7 loss to the Giants.

The question is, can the Vikings get turnovers against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers? Safety Andrew Sendejo and cornerback Marcus Sherels — both normally backups — dropped fairly easy picks Monday, and four other passes batted into the air by defensive linemen fell harmlessly.

The Vikings had seven interceptions in their first four games, turnovers that were key to keeping them in the game. They haven’t had a pick in their past two games, both lopsided losses. And Rodgers, whose career QB rating of 104.9 is best in NFL history, is not prone to pickoffs.

Most pressing question

What’s wrong with the Vikings’ running game?

Trying to catch up in the past two losses, the Vikings have thrown a whopping 97 passes, and run only 27 times.

Seems logical to think that Adrian Peterson is more likely to break off a long run when he gets the ball more, right? Pro Football Focus reported Peterson had 40 runs of 15 yards or longer last year. This season, he has four. The Vikings average 4.4 yards per carry; in 2012 they averaged 5.4.

“It’s more than the offensive line,” Frazier said Friday. “They are a major part of our run offense, without question. But our tight ends … those guys are a big part of our offense as well. Along with our wide receivers the way we do it. We count on those guys getting a good block on safeties and corners as well to help us spring runs.”

KEY INJURIES

• The Vikings will be without Freeman, Smith, running back Matt Asiata (shoulder) and tight end Rhett Ellison (ankle). Defensive tackle Fred Evans (knee) and safety Jamarca Sanford (ankle) are questionable.

• The Packers are missing tight end Jermichael Finley (neck) and linebacker Clay Matthews (thumb). Wideout James Jones (knee) is doubtful.

CHRIS MILLER

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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 - LP: F. Rodney 2 FINAL
Texas - WP: P. Figueroa 3
Boston - WP: C. Capuano 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: L. Garcia 4
Kansas City - WP: D. Duffy 6 FINAL
Houston - LP: J. Williams 4
Toronto 0 Postponed
Minnesota 0
Oakland - LP: D. Pomeranz 4 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Smith 5
Colorado - LP: J. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: A. Cashner 4
Los Angeles - LP: J. Howell 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: J. Machi 2
Chicago 86 FINAL
Charlotte 91
Indiana 101 FINAL
Orlando 86
Atlanta 111 FINAL
Milwaukee 103
Dallas 105 FINAL
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 136 FINAL
Minnesota 130
Washington 118 FINAL
Boston 102
Toronto 92 FINAL
New York 95
Golden State 116 FINAL
Denver 112
LA Clippers 104 FINAL
Portland 110
Phoenix 104 FINAL
Sacramento 99
Montreal 5 FINAL(OT)
Tampa Bay 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 4
Dallas 3 FINAL
Anaheim 4
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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