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 before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.

Ponder, Wright connect; Vikings lead 13-3 at half

Posted by: Mark Craig under Vikings, Lions, Adrian Peterson, Antoine Winfield, Chad Greenway, Kevin Williams, Percy Harvin Updated: November 11, 2012 - 1:23 PM

Players and coaches teased rookie Jarius Wright all week about whether he'd be ready for his NFL debut after sittiing idle as a game-day inactive for the first nine games of his NFL career.

Wright, who was active only because veteran Percy Harvin is out with a badly sprained left ankle, answered them on his second regular-season snap as a professional, beating a weak zone defense for a 54-yard reception to the Lions' 1-yard line. Two plays later, Wright was uncovered when he caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Ponder to give the Vikings a 7-0 lead with 7:52 left in the first quarter.

Ponder, who entered the game in a four-game funk that was problem No. 1 of many in the team's 1-3 slump, completed his first six passes for 57 yards and a touchdown en route to leading the Vikings to a 13-3 halftime lead at Mall of America Field.

Wright, a fourth-round draft pick, had three catches for 65 yards.Ponder has completed 13 of 18 passes for 102 yards, one touchdown and no turnovers. He completed passes to eight receivers, including himself. He caught a batted ball and was tackled for a 15-yard loss. 

Meanwhile, the defense entered the game having not forced a turnover in nine quarters. But linebacker Chad Greenway's interception in tight coverage on tight end Brandon Pettigrew in Lions territory set up a 48-yard Blair Walsh field goal with 5:41 left in the first quarter. 

Jason Hanson made it a 10-3 game with a 41-yard field goal with 11:07 left in the half. Kevin Williams stopped that drive with an 11-yard sack on third-and-five. But the key snap for the Vikings came the play before when cornerback Antoine Winfield knifed in off the left side of the offense to tackle running back Mikel Leshoure for a 2-yard loss on second-and-three.

The Vikings stretched the lead back to 10 points, 13-3, on a 23-yard field goal by Walsh with 4:41 left in the half. On the drive, Ponder showed no signs of the knee injury that's been dogging him. He followed a 15-yard run by Adrian Peterson with a 20-yard scramble into Lions territory.


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