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 mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Ponder's struggles focus of season-opening loss

Posted by: Chip Scoggins under Vikings players Updated: September 8, 2013 - 8:19 PM

DETROIT -- Good evening from Detroit. We've filed our stories and columns from Ford Field, all of which should be online shortly, but wanted to share a few thoughts here, too.

Lots of frustration inside the Vikings locker room after a 34-24 loss to the Lions. The Vikings were sloppy and made myriad mistakes on both sides of the ball.

But Christian Ponder's performance is going to get the most scrutiny, of course. Vikings fans had hoped that Ponder would show enough improvement to ease some of their concerns about his development and whether he can become a long-term answer at quarterback.

Instead, he's certain to face more criticism and doubt after the way he played Sunday. Ponder completed 18 of 28 passes for 236 yards. He had one touchdown pass but tied a career high with three interceptions and posted a 63.1 passer rating. He also was charged for a fumble when he tripped over Brandon Fusco's foot, resulting in an awkward exchange with Adrian Peterson.

Ponder's most critical mistake was the interception he threw late in the first half when Ndamukong Suh hit his arm as he was releasing the ball. Ponder said he was trying to throw the ball out of bounds to avoid the sack. Instead, it went high in the air and linebacker Stephen Tulloch intercepted it.

Instead of running down the clock and perhaps adding a touchdown or field goal, that interception gave Detroit a chance to score in the final seconds to trail only 14-13 at halftime.

Asked to assess his overall performance, Ponder said: "Well, we had too many three and outs, we had four turnovers, I had three interceptions. We’ve just got to play better."

Ponder's teammates and coaches defended him after the game, saying that the entire team played poorly.

"I think we all have to play better," Peterson said. "I think it's on us, up front, to do a better job. That's a very good defensive front and we have to do more ourselves, not just Christian.''

Said Leslie Frazier: "It wasn’t all Christian. We’ve got to play better as a team."

That's true, but any hope that Ponder would display marked improvement as he begins his third season disappeared Sunday, which means the Vikings will face more questions about their quarterback and his future going forward.

We'll be back at Winter Park tomorrow for Frazier's press conference and player access. Good night.

 

 

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