Wednesday, March 4, 2015
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christian ponder

Coming off of a big win, the Vikings bye week has not been completely quiet, and I have plenty of great reads to share with you:

Christian Ponder had a rough patch prior to Sunday’s beat down of the Lions at the Metrodome, but he answered those critics that thought he was a lost cause that would doom the Vikings from here on out.

Ponder was feeling so smitten after his 221 yard performance that he took the time during his postgame comments to throw a jab or two back at Vikings fans that were having fun with his newly public love life.

Ponder completed 24 of 32 passes in the matchup and scored two touchdowns, one to Jarius Wright and one to Kyle Rudolph.  He was accurate on the majority of his deep balls, remained pretty calm in the pocket, and even successfully completed a pass while rolling to his right (a rarity this season).

Every time the Lions looked to be getting back into the game, the Vikings offense was able to answer, which was especially impressive down the stretch.  The only other game in which the Lions were outscored was the previous week, after jumping ahead of the Jaguars by 24 points and going into prevent mode.

Ponder deserves credit for bouncing back in the face of adversity in a big divisional game that needed to be won, and I think it is safe to say that we can now all agree:  The Vikings Can Win Game With Christian Ponder.

I honestly believe that, with Ponder at the helm, the Vikings can win any game on any given Sunday.  He has proven to be capable of taking care of the football and doing just enough to keep his team in the ball game multiple times this season.

What I am still not convinced of, however, is that Ponder has the ability to carry this team on his back and will them to victory when the chips are stacked against them.  This is an immeasurable trait that just simply exists in the NFL’s great quarterbacks of past and present, and I have yet to see that attribute surface in Ponder’s play.

The warning signs were not completely absent on Sunday.  Despite an all star performance from Adrian Peterson the Vikings still only managed a 25% touchdown rate in the red zone and 26% on third down.

Ponder’s offense didn’t turn over the ball, however, and controlled the play clock for nearly 10 minutes more than the Lions.

A game manager capable of winning.

For now, we will take that.

A number of excellent individual performances came about during Sunday’s upset over the Lions.  Who will you award the VT game ball to?

Christian Ponder:  24 of 32 for 221 yards and two touchdowns, plus 7 runs for 15 yards.

Adrian Peterson:  27 rushes for 171 yards and a touchdown, plus 3 catches for 5 yards.

Kyle Rudolph:  7 catches for 64 yards and a touchdown.

Jarius Wright:  3 catches for 65 yards and a touchdown, plus 1 rush for 3 yards.

Blair Walsh:  Broke Vikings franchise record for touchbacks in a season, and made 4 of 4 field goal attempts.

Antoine Winfield:  9 tackles and a recovered fumble.

Chad Greenway:  5 tackles and an interception.

The Fourth quarter started off with a bang.  On a third and six, Christian Ponder threw a nice pass to Kyle Rudolph who got some blocking from Michael Jenkins on a walk-in touchdown.  Then, with a 12 points lead, Leslie Frazier called for a two point conversion which was successful when Adrian Peterson pounded it up the gut.

A stupid late hate from Mistral Raymond gave the Lions a fresh set of downs after the defense seemed to be on top of the Lions offensive plans.  Then, Mikel Leshoure gashed the defense across midfield which was followed by a decent catch from Calvin Johnson.

On the very next play, Johnson made another leaping catch inside the five and then another stupid penalty struck as Jasper Brinkley delivered a helmet-to-helmet hit on Johnson.  That play was followed up by an all-too-easy catch on by Titus Young on a slant in front of A.J. Jefferson.

A pair of positive runs from Peterson was then followed by a tough non-call on a pass to Kyle Rudolph and the Vikings were set to punt, which Stephen Logan returned for 27 yards, and may have gone for a touchdown if not for a Chris Kluwe touchdown.

Chad Greenway led the defense, aided by an important holding call, in holding the Lions offense to a three and out and they were denied the chance to even kick a field goal.

The Vikings drive started out great with a pitch to Adrian Peterson that went for long yardage, but then a delay of game penalty set them back.  The very next play, however, Peterson took the ball to the right side and went 61 yards, high stepping for the score.  This is Peterson’s fourth 100+ yard rushing game in a row.

The Lions, of course, started out by gunning towards Calvin Johnson.  Jamarca Sanford, however, punched the ball out of Johnson’s clutch and Antoine Winfield recovered it.

Then came even more yards from Peterson, on a cutback to the left, that went for a big gain on first down, getting the Vikings into field goal range.  More Peterson, a Lions penalty, and then more Peterson set up an easy field goal for Blair Walsh who was able to extend the Vikings lead to 17 points.

The Vikings then went into a bend don’t break defense allowing Stafford to dink and dunk his way down the field, with Erin Henderson coming up with some nice plays on a few occasions. Harrison Smith and Josh Robinson, both rookies, had some good defensive plays on the series as well.

At the two minute warning, the Lions just entered into the red zone on a Calvin Johnson completion, but the Metrodome knew that even the Vikings couldn’t blow this one.  On the first play following the two minute warning, Calvin Johnson caught a short pass and was able to push for a touchdown that cut the Vikings lead to 10.

A pooch kick, successfully recovered by Marcus Sherels, pretty much signaled the end of the end for the Lions.  A couple of short runs from Peterson drained the Lions of their remaining timeouts and then a quarterback bootleg to the left ended in a personal foul, after Ponder made the rare choice to slide feet first, gave the Vikings a first down and the Lions a nail in their coffin.

Ponder was then able to kneel down and take the victory, which was much needed for the Vikings who now get to head into the bye week with a 6-4 record (2-0 against NFC North teams) and some positive things to build off of.

The second quarter started with the Vikings defense giving up yardage on both the ground and through the air, pinning them back against the end zone.  In the red zone, however, the defense toughened up and a Kevin Williams coverage sack brought it to an end with a field goal being the only damage done.

The Vikings offense then had a nice, methodical drive down the field that featured big runs from both Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder.  A dropped pass by Stephen Burton inside the ten doomed the Vikings chances of a touchdown, and they had to settle for a short field goal.

A solid defensive effort was capped off by great coverage by Jasper Brinkley and the Vikings got the ball back with 2:28 left in the half.  A three and out, however, gave the ball back to the Lions at the two minute warning after some very questionable clock management.

A very impressive defensive stand, including a third down sack by Everson Griffen, actually gave the Vikings the ball back with 1:30 left in the half and two timeouts.  The Vikings then went three and out.

So, with both offenses unable to do anything with their chances at the end of the first half, the Vikings lead by a score of 13-3.

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