The Vikings came out on the wrong end of a 33-27 decision in last Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers, but rookie QB Christian Ponder’s performance in the loss suggests the Vikings are moving in the right direction.
One area in particular that improved was offensive production on 3rd down. Heading into the Packers game, the Vikings were converting 36.0% of their 3rd downs, a number that included Ponder’s time filling in for McNabb in the 4th quarter against Chicago. If you take away Ponder’s production against the Bears, the Vikings were just 25 of 71 (35.2%) on 3rd downs and they picked up 52 first downs through the air, which averages out to 8.7 per game.
With Ponder as the starter against Green Bay, though, the Vikings were 9 of 16 (56.2%) on 3rd downs and they picked up 12 first downs through the air. In fact, of Ponder’s 13 completions against the Packers, 12 of them were for TDs or 1st downs; he was 7 of 13 for 93 yards with no TDs and an INT on 3rd down.
“The third down numbers were impressive,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said on Monday. “When you are able to complete I think 56 percent conversion rate against one of the top defenses in the National Football League the way our offense did, Christian had a major part in that third down conversion rate but also just seeing some of the throws that he made on the run, his pocket presence, his ability to just be able to function in some tough situations.”
Another reason to be encouraged by Ponder’s performance against Green Bay was his ability to bounce back from a poor 3rd quarter. Ponder threw 2 INTs to Packers CB Charles Woodson in the 3rd quarter, but he bounced back in the 4th quarter to lead the Vikings to 10 points, including a 24-yard TD strike to WR Michael Jenkins with Woodson in coverage.
“To bounce back and play with the confidence he played with and not to seem as if things are falling apart around [him],” Frazier said. “He continued to play hard and play with confidence and not be shaken by some of the adversity faced in the third quarter. That gives you a lot of hope as we go forward.”
Tags: Christian Ponder, Leslie Frazier
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