The flight to and from Green Bay is the shortest trip of every season for the Vikings. But, given how things unfolded in Week 13, you wouldn’t be surprised if this year’s trip home from Green Bay felt like the longest of the season for Christian Ponder and the Vikings.
The Vikings had their way with Green Bay’s defense as Adrian Peterson pranced around Lambeau Field to the tune of 210 yards through three quarters. The Vikings defense was playing well, too, holding Green Bay’s high-powered offense to just 10 points through halftime and much of the 3rd quarter.
But it was a costly interception thrown by Ponder early in the 3rd quarter that turned out to be the tipping point. Peterson ripped off a 48-yard run on the first play of the 2nd half, setting up the Vikings with a 1st and 10 from the Green Bay 12. The Vikings were poised to go up 21-10 early in the 2nd half, and given the way the Vikings were running the ball and playing defense, that lead would likely have been insurmountable for the Packers.
Two plays after the 48-yard Peterson run, though, Ponder threw an interception that served as a turning point for the game. Rather than being up 21-10, the Vikings lead was cut from 14-10 to 14-13, and Green Bay eventually pulled away for a 23-14 win.
The good news, though, is that Ponder’s play has steadily improved since that game. The Vikings haven’t lost since, and Ponder has been an important part of each win. Against Chicago the next week, he converted several critical 3rd-down throws and in wins over the St. Louis Rams and Houston Texans Ponder was able to capitalize on the opposing defense’s commitment to stopping Peterson.
“A lot of it has to do with Christian just growing as a quarterback,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said on Wednesday. “He’s gone through some challenges over the course of this season, and he responded extremely well over the last few weeks.
“It was a tough day in a lot of ways in our first game against Green Bay. He bounced back from that with a very efficient game against Chicago, and he’s continued that progression right on through. We worked on some things from that Green Bay game that we wanted to improve on, and we’ve seen some improvement in his play.”
Frazier didn’t stop there in analyzing why Ponder has improved over the last three weeks. He also credited the guys playing around Ponder for their improved play as well.
“It’s just a combination of what our coaches are doing with him and what he’s doing,” Frazier said. “Also, the guys around him. It’s a collective effort. We’ve got a lot of other guys…our receivers are doing a better job in some of the things they’re doing. Christian obviously is doing a better job. Our pass pro (protection) is a little bit better. And what we’re doing schematically has helped us as well.”
Asked if Sunday’s rematch against the Packers would be important in determining where Ponder stands in the organization as the quarterback of the future, Frazier deflected the matter and instead turned the focus to the current team and its objectives.
“The best thing he can do is a lead us to a win,” Frazier said. “That would be huge for our football team. Just do a great job at the quarterback position like he’s done over the last few weeks, and for the most part through the season. Lead us to victory. That would be terrific.
“That being said, we have to have a lot of guys playing well on Sunday against a very good football team. Twelve straight wins in our division, eleven wins this season, they’re a good team. So we need not only Christian playing well, but a lot of other people playing well also.”
Tags: Christian Ponder, Leslie Frazier
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