QB Christian Ponder - Free Agent
|6-2, 229||Born: 2-25-1988||College: Florida State||Drafted: Round 1, pick 2011|
2014 Week 4 vs ATL (0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 pass, 1 / 1 / 0 rush)
The former starting quarterback came in during the fourth quarter and ran the ball. Assuming Bridgewater is OK for Thursday night, Ponder should return to the bench where Vikings fans will pray he stays.
2014 Week 5 vs GB (22 / 44 / 222 / 0 / 2 pass, 3 / 15 / 1 rush)
To paraphrase former Vikings coach Dennis Green "Ponder is who we thought he was"--in this case an erratic, mediocre quarterback with accuracy issues and a lack of pocket presence. The first one appeared to be deflected by Luther Robinson, a recently promoted player from the practice squad. It was then caught by Julius Peppers, who returned it for a touchdown. It's hard to say for sure if the ball would have reached its intended target as Peppers was right in the way anyway. The second throw was all Ponder as he tossed the ball at running back Jerrick McKinnon, who was running what appeared to be a shallow post. He was well defended by linebacker Jamari Lattimore, who undercut the route and the ball was thrown behind McKinnon by Ponder as well. It looked as if Ponder threw it to Lattimore. On Ponder's defense, this was not a good showing by the Minnesota offensive line and he was under pressure or hit often during the game. He's always been a bit skittish and this just exacerbated things. Overall Ponder looked slow to make decisions, prone to making bad ones and altogether uncomfortable in the pocket both when there was pressure and when there wasn't. Teddy Bridgewater can't get healthy soon enough for the Vikings.
2013 Week 1 vs DET (18 / 28 / 236 / 1 / 3 pass, 4 / 12 / 0 rush)
Ponder continues to struggle to get the ball downfield, often appearing to look for his short options most of the time. Last season Ponder threw the ball under ten yards 75% of the time. Sunday was better,out of 28 passes, 13 were under ten yards (not counting sacks of course). The 46% percent is better than the overwhelming number from 2012. Some of Ponder's mistakes,such as his first interception at the 14 minute mark of the second quarter. Ponder got the ball out quickly to Jerome Simpson, only to have the pass go off Simpson's hands and right to outside linebacker DeAndre Levy. It could have been worse,Levy returned it for a touchdown but had the score nullified by a penalty by Ndamukong Suh. The Vikings then immediately picked off Matt Stafford and got the ball back. To his credit, Ponder rebounded well and went back to Simpson many times,including two passes later when he hit Simpson on a 44 yard completion which drew a pass interference flag. That said, Ponder continues to make some baffling decisions. He was nearly picked off on a short pass to Jarius Wright which Lions cornerback Bill Bentley should have picked off and taken to the house. On that play, Ponder stared down Wright,something you can catch him doing quite often throughout a game. He then was intercepted on a pass late in the second quarter. With 2:22 to go, Ponder dropped back on a pass only to find a jailbreak along his offensive line. Ponder scrambled briefly and then went to throw the ball the ball away, but his arm was hit by Ndamukong Suh and Ponder was unable to get the ball out of bounds and the short pass was intercepted. The pass probably never should have been thrown as Ponder was on the move and had to throw the ball across his body. As much as a quarterback might hate to do it, on 1st & 10 you have to protect the ball and perhaps take the sack. Ponder's accuracy was also an issue. He threw a ball low and behind Greg Jennings, who made a beautiful effort to reel the pass in and wildly overthrew tight end John Carlson at 6:55 of the third quarter. Ponder also ended his game with a poor throw to tight end Kyle Rudolph which was intercepted. That's not to say Ponder didn't have some nice moments. At 3:34 of the third quarter, he had a wide open Jerome Simpson while he hit on a 44 yard pass. He overthrew Simpson just a tad, but it was an otherwise nice throw. At the end of the day though, Ponder still looks like he has a long way to go to become a reliable NFL quarterback.
2013 Week 2 vs CHI (16 / 30 / 227 / 1 / 1 pass, 6 / 18 / 0 rush)
This game featured two very different halves of football from Christian Ponder with one commonality and it's one which defenses are well aware of. The more you apply pressure to Ponder the worse he plays. That may seem accurate to say about any quarterback but the best and most resilient bounce back and continue to take chances. Ponder, as this game progressed, stopped throwing longer passes and started regressing to bad habits. The first quarter featured a quarterback (and offensive coordinator) who took some chances, stretching the field and trying to challenge the Chicago Bears' defense. Then the offensive line began to falter a bit and Ponder began to make some bad decisions. At 14:43 of the second quarter, Ponder watched the pocket collapse around him and defensive end Corey Wooten began to close in on him. Without access to the All-22 coach's film it's impossible to tell how well covered the receivers are but clearly Ponder sees nothing he likes and dumps the ball to fullback Zach Line who is well covered by linebacker Lance Briggs. The ball rebounded off Line and was very nearly picked off. After a short pass to rookie Cordarrelle Patterson which went nowhere, Ponder drops back to pass again. After four seconds, the pocket implodes and Ponder panics, scrambling to get out of the pocket, falling and throwing the ball underhand towards Toby Gerhart. It's a terrible toss, sailing behind and past Gerhart and nearly intercepted by Bears cornerback Charles Tillman. On the next series, Ponder drops back on a first-and-ten play and completely stares down his target, receiver Jerome Simpson and then compounds the issue by throwing the pass later than he should have. Of course, cornerback Charles Tillman reads that, picks the ball off and easily takes the ball back for a touchdown. As badly as Ponder played the first half, he was able to bounce back and play much better in the second. As his offensive line played better and gave him more time, Ponder looked more confident and delivered better balls. The gameplan still seemed conservative though, with far more short passes relying on the receiver to get extra yards than efforts to get the ball deep. Considering the cornerback tandem for the Bears, that was probably wise, but there's no point in having Greg Jennings or Jerome Simpson if you're going to limit the playbook. Ponder showed some real guts on two critical scrambles for first downs as well. The first was on a fourth down where Ponder dropped back with a play-action fake the defense didn't bite on. With nobody open, Ponder saw a running land and scrambled for a first, taking a big shot from Tillman. The second run was on a third-and-two play with 11 minutes to go in the fourth quarter with the game tied. On the play, Ponder dropped back and immediately saw no options to throw to. He scrambled left, trying to stretch the defense and head for the first down marker. Had Rudolph held his block a bit longer, perhaps Ponder would have made it. He was close enough to get the call at first, but the play was reviewed and reversed. Still it was another gutsy run which resulted in a big hit. While Ponder continues to struggle overall, many of his flaws seem fixable-if the team can be patient and the offensive line kicks its play up a notch. His second half, which was much more effective than the first, still had some bumps due to pressure from the Bears but shows he can improve his play.
2013 Week 3 vs CLE (25 / 42 / 228 / 0 / 1 pass, 5 / 46 / 2 rush)
While Christian Ponder continues to show no signs that he can be the franchise quarterback the Minnesota Vikings need, the truth is somewhat more complex. What else can you say when the offensive line is playing so much worse than expected and allows him to get sacked six times and hit a total of eight times? Young quarterbacks don't traditionally flourish under those conditions. It's also not beneficial to have him throw it 42 times against a good Cleveland Browns defense, even if the defense had been struggling the last few weeks. To start the game, Ponder actually looked good. He showed good poise in the pocket on his second pass of the game, a 27-yard throw to Greg Jennings along the sideline where Jennings found open space between the corner and the safety. While the pressure was massive, there was at least one Browns player coming at him when he threw the ball but he didn't bail out of the pocket as he often does. He did wait too long to deliver a pass to tight end John Carlson in the end zone early in that same first quarter, which ended up batted down by cornerback Buster Skrine. Carlson was wide open for some time but Ponder didn't see him until Skrine was already heading back towards the end zone. Towards the end of the first quarter, the offensive line started to struggle and Ponder began rushing his throws, overthrowing several players by a wide margin and not waiting for plays to develop. His interception was very much a throw in this vein. On the play, taking place late in the second quarter, Ponder had Jerome Simpson open on a crossing route but missed linebacker Craig Robertson dropping back into coverage. The ball was thrown too low and tipped by Robertson, flying up and into the hands of safety TJ Ward. At normal speed, the throw also looked like it would be late getting to Simpson anyway, though slow motion seems to be less clear. This has been the pattern for Ponder in his time as quarterback for the Vikings - he starts out well, starts to get pressured and then sees his accuracy plummet. This time out wasn't a complete disaster but he also doesn't seem to be capable of making that one needed play to turn things around either.
2013 Week 8 vs GB (14 / 21 / 145 / 0 / 0 pass, 5 / 38 / 1 rush)
After a Cordarrelle Patterson 109-yard kickoff return, Christian Ponder and the offense didn't see the ball until there was just 5:19 left in the first quarter. On the very first play, Ponder drops back to pass and sees his main targets all well-covered. He does not, however, see fullback Jerome Felton wide open in the flat, instead pulling down the ball and bailing from the pocket. The moment he pulls down the ball, Ponder stops looking for a receiver and stops looking downfield. In case we had forgotten, Ponder appears to stop his progressions after his initial read and is more than happy to just run. Of course, this is better than when he forces the ball, and as he didn't turn it over Sunday, that's an improvement. Still, it's the little things and this continues to be an issue for Ponder--he has his initial read and seems to be perfectly content to bail if it's not open. He lacks patience, which might also play into his issues going vertical. Overall, Ponder threw a lot of inaccurate balls as well. On one with 7:45 left in the first half, he threw a screen to Greg Jennings which was five yards behind Jennings. It's safe to wonder what each player thought the play was since Jennings took off on a route. Ponder also made his fair share of plays which were quite good, such as a 17-yard reception by Kyle Rudolph. Ponder was under pressure in the backfield, saw his big tight end had a step on the coverage and tossed the ball into the air where only Rudolph was going to reach it. Ponder would later essentially sack himself late in the first half. On the play, a 1st & 10 down on the Vikings' 23 yard line, Ponder takes the snap and drops back. It's not totally clear what the coverage is, and the pocket does collapse, but it seems as if wide receiver Jarius Wright had inside position on his defender and could have come back for the ball. On the end zone angle, Rudolph is open--or at least more open than he was on the earlier throw we broke down. Instead Ponder takes a step forward, tucks the ball and--instead of trying to run out of the pocket to gain yards or extend the play hunches down to give himself up for the hit. Ponder had two bigger plays--one to Patterson, a 17-yard throw which Ponder put up high where only Patterson could get it with a fingertip pass. He did appear to stare down Patterson on that play, but the rookie found the open space in Green Bay's zone. The other longer pass was an 18-yard strike to Jerome Simpson--his only catch of the day. Simpson ran a nice route, finding open space between the linebackers and the safety. Overall though, Ponder threw a lot of short passes on what seems to be his primary read each time.
2013 Week 9 vs DAL (25 / 37 / 236 / 1 / 1 pass, 4 / 29 / 1 rush)
The Vikings and Christian Ponder opened the game with a no-huddle, up-tempo offense with three straight plays, two for positive games and one which ended up with Ponder scrambling. The Vikings made sure the Dallas Cowboys couldn't focus on one player by having Ponder target five different receivers in the first half dozen plays. On Ponder's scramble--the third play of the game, it appears that he pulled the ball down and scrambled too early. On the end-zone camera angle, Ponder is clearly looking to his right and misses Greg Jennings on a slant towards the middle of the field. A linebacker has dropped into coverage, but there is enough room to lead Jennings and avoid the ball being picked, but Ponder--as he often does--makes his one read, sees the receiver to his right covered and ditches the pocket. At other times his mobility was an asset as he was able to scramble and extend a play, while keeping his eyes downfield--something he struggles with at times. In fact his running ability allowed him to score at the end of the second quarter to give the Vikings the lead. On the play, Ponder dropped back to pass but while he had Adrian Peterson open on a screen, he chose to pull the ball down and run for the touchdown. Once he got past the line of scrimmage, there was a huge gap between the next defenders and Ponder had time to make a move, juke a defender and get into the end zone pretty much untouched. It was quick thinking on Ponder's part, something which he was good at for the most part in the first half. We saw a lot of very quick decisions by Ponder which for the most part were pretty effective. Ponder continues to miss some wide open targets, such as a wide open John Carlson at the end of the first where the tight end was uncovered on a screen play and Ponder threw it well over his head. Ponder threw a large portion of his passes short, so much so that the Dallas Cowboys would leave the receivers on a screen a pretty big cushion because they could close quickly. Still, Ponder and the Vikings were able to dink and dunk their way down the field. The two biggest mistakes Ponder made Sunday were a fumble in the end zone and a fourth quarter interception. The fumble was on partially his fault--you have to make quick decisions in your own end (especially your end zone) and Ponder took too long (he held the football about 3.5 seconds), resulting in the strip-sack and touchdown. On the other hand, right tackle J'Marcus Webb didn't hold his block on Dallas defensive end George Selvie, who got around Webb too quickly. If Ponder had sensed the rush and gotten the ball out quickly or if Webb had held the defender another second or two, the fumble doesn't happen. Ponder needs to speed things up, but he also needs more from his offensive line--an issue all year. The interception was just a badly thrown ball which Dallas cornerback Orlando Scandrick read immediately as Ponder once again appeared to stare his receiver down. The ball was also underthrown but had Ponder looked the defender off even a little, Jennings would have had time to make a play on it. Still, you can see what the Vikings like about Ponder in moments like the 31-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph. On the play, Ponder dropped back and did a good job going through his progressions, finding Rudolph and delivering a very crisp pass where Rudolph had the best chance to catch it while the defense had less of a chance of making a play. Rudolph made an extraordinary effort to get the last ten yards for the touchdown, but it was a very good pass to get him the ball. If Ponder can do more of that over the last half of the season, and less of the waffling, hesitation and inaccuracy, he may yet get this job for the 2013 NFL season.
2013 Week 10 vs WAS (17 / 21 / 174 / 2 / 1 pass, 2 / 13 / 0 rush)
This was one of Christian Ponder's best games as an NFL starter, which is a shame since he had to leave in the third quarter with a dislocated shoulder. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that it is being considered a minor injury though, and Ponder could start in Week 11 against a tough Seattle Seahawks team. The game itself got off to a rough start for Ponder though, as he took a sack on his second drop back by holding the ball just a second too long. The very next play, Ponder went deep but the pass was hideously underthrown and intercepted. Receiver Greg Jennings ran a vertical route but was very well covered and even had the ball not been underthrown, the chances of completing the pass were slim anyway. This was another case where Ponder only had eyes for his primary receiver--he had two other receivers (Cordarrelle Patterson to his right and Jerome Simpson to his left) wide open for what would have been big gains. There were two Washington safeties very deep--going long to a very well-covered receiver with safety help over the top was just a bad decision. This is the consistent issue with Ponder, even on completed passes. Throw after throw, Ponder chooses to fit the ball into well covered guys and misses wide open receivers. He has to learn to stick with his progressions otherwise he will never become a franchise quarterback. Ponder did settle down as the game went on and had a very successful evening, but overall the "first read" lock is an issue regardless and happened all game. He did a great job threading a pass to Patterson for a two-yard touchdown in the second quarter. On the play, Ponder ran to his right immediately after the snap, running parallel to the route Patterson goes out on. Ponder makes a nice throw on the run, just over one defender's head and into Patterson's hands. Ponder was injured with a minute to go in the third quarter on a scramble to the one yard line. It was 1st-and-10 on the Washington 15-yard line. As is a consistent issue with Ponder, his first read wasn't open so he bailed out of the pocket. He had time, it was first down and he could have waited a few more seconds. There were receivers breaking free. Once he began to run, he never kept looking for a receiver downfield, he just ran. It was a gutsy run and he nearly extended his arm enough for a touchdown but fell just short. It's the type of run that you have to admire on the one hand, but also showed a lot of his flaws. It's possible Ponder might start next week, so the Vikings could get more of a look at him and make a final decision going into the offseason.
2013 Week 11 vs SEA (13 / 22 / 129 / 1 / 2 pass, 5 / 0 / 0 rush)
Christian Ponder had looked more poised than ever before during the win over Washington in Week 10, but that was not the case against a relentless Seattle Seahawks front seven. After handing the ball off twice, Ponder then fumbled the ball away. Defensive end Cliff Avril just outmaneuvered right tackle Phil Loadholt and swatted the ball away before Ponder's arm could come forward. Ponder settled down after that, doing a better job of sensing pressure and getting rid of the ball. And then the second half happened and Ponder completely fell apart. Ponder threw two interceptions before being benched in favor of Matt Cassel in the fourth quarter. Both interceptions were hard to watch, but the pick-six was the straw which broke the Leslie Frazier's back. On the play, the Vikings sent out four wide receivers, with Adrian Peterson in the backfield. Cornerback Walter Thurmond III was on Jarius Wright as Wright started to run a "go" route. Meanwhile rookie Cordarrelle Patterson was running a short "in" and it appeared as though the defender covering him had backed way off--as if he might have bit on Patterson running a long route. However, it is clear that the Seahawks were in a zone and Thurmond was responsible for the area Patterson was entering. Ponder assumed Thurmond was going to leave with Wright and that the coverage was blown so Patterson was wide open. Thurmond was reading Ponder the entire way and Ponder--as is almost always the case--was staring his receiver down. Thurmond jumped the route and was gone for six points before you could shout "don't throw that ball!" While there has been some improvement from Ponder, his continued inability to read a defense or see defenders makes him a complete liability under center for the Vikings. While the team has not decided on a quarterback for next week in Green Bay, the team can ill afford another disastrous outing like this.
2013 Week 12 vs GB (21 / 30 / 233 / 1 / 0 pass, 3 / -5 / 0 rush)
Things didn't start off well for Vikings quarterback as he was sacked in back-to-back plays on the very first drive of the game. That was the story of the game for Ponder, as he was sacked six times and under constant pressure from the Green Bay Packers defensive front. Despite this Ponder threw no interceptions and didn't fumble the ball--a step up from the previous three games during which he had thrown four interceptions. If the Vikings were going to have a chance to beat the Packers, Ponder was going to have to play virtually mistake free and he did just that. His first half numbers weren't remarkable--just 127-yards--but he completed 11 of 14 passes, which is a very good showing and that 78% completion percentage held up pretty well over the course of the game, ending up at 70%. The success of the offense depended on running back Adrian Peterson keeping the ball moving--the Vikings clearly didn't want to require Ponder to win this game with his arm. Because the Packers needed to contain Peterson, Ponder was able to complete multiple passes in the vicinity of 21-30 yards, something he hasn't always excelled at. His longest pass of the day was a 31-yard throw to Jerome Simpson. On the play, Simpson ran a sideline route down the field. Ponder saw he had a step on the coverage and threw the ball, in a high, arching pass. Simpson had to slow down and leap up to catch the ball over cornerback Tramon Williams, but was able to come down with the ball. His only touchdown came from a 12-yard pass to tight end Rhett Ellison. On the play, Ponder used a play-action fake and then rolled out to his right. Meanwhile, Ellison went on a short out route and Ponder threw him a short pass. Ellison turned it upfield and bulled his way into the end zone. Overall, Ponder played adequately and kept his mistakes to a minimum which was enough for the tie this week.
2013 Week 13 vs CHI (3 / 8 / 40 / 0 / 0 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
Christian Ponder left Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears near the end of the second quarter with a concussion, the result of being sandwiched between to Bears defenders. It may also have been a bit cumulative as Ponder was sacked twice and hit numerous times prior to that last one. While he was in the game, Ponder continually tried to force the ball to receiver Jerome Simpson to no avail. Five of Ponder's eight passes were directed towards Simpson. Many of them were poorly thrown, but several of them were passes Simpson should have caught but dropped. Ponder didn't look particularly effective in his time under center, much like the majority of the time we've seen him this season.
2012 Week 1 vs JAX (20 / 27 / 270 / 0 / 0 pass, 1 / 1 / 0 rush)
Ponder has definitely shown improvement this off-season and that continued against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Both he and fellow second year quarterback Blaine Gabbert did a good job protecting the ball save for one lost fumble and was very accurate, hitting on 20 of his 27 passes. While he didn't throw a touchdown, he did a very good job spreading the ball out. A question coming into this game was who the number two target would be with Jerome Simpson out, and the answer was 'it doesn't matter' as Ponder found ample targets to throw to. He did favor tight end Kyle Rudolph along with Percy Harvin and that is something to keep watch over going forward. Altogether a solid outing for Ponder to kick off the 2012 season.
2012 Week 2 vs IND (27 / 35 / 245 / 2 / 0 pass, 3 / 7 / 0 rush)
Ponder didn't look great though he didn't look awful either. He led his team downfield numerous times but the drives kept stalling as the Colts poured the pressure on as the red zone neared. He mostly focused his attention on Percy Harvin, who had been agitating to be more involved this off-season. Ponder still looks a bit nervous in the pocket and tends to pull down the ball too quickly, instead of reading through his progressions. He leaves a lot of potential plays on the field because of this. He did a good job protecting the ball, save for a fumble, and was able to find tight end Kyle Rudolph on several big plays, including a touchdown. Ponder is still a work in progress and he'll get a real hard test next week against the potent 49ers defense.
2012 Week 3 vs SF (21 / 35 / 198 / 2 / 0 pass, 7 / 33 / 1 rush)
Throughout the game, Ponder displayed excellent control of the offense. His ability to complete short and medium routes, as well as making accurate throws while pressured allowed the Vikings to employ a balanced attack, running the ball 41 times and attempting 35 throws against arguably the best run defense in the league. Ponder was also able to repeatedly elude defenders in the backfield and scramble for gains, leaving San Francisco without a sack all game. His 23 yard touchdown run was the result of quick decision making when Ponder recognized the defense's tight coverage on the wheel route and the gap in the middle. He weaved between defenders, broke an arm tackle and lunged into the end zone as another 49er defender caught hold of his ankle. He ended the day with 7 rushing attempts for 33 yards and a touchdown. His two touchdown passes to Kyle Rudolph were even more impressive, as both were play action passes that Ponder threw with a defender about to hit him. On the first touchdown, Ponder floated an accurate pass to the corner of the end zone while in a full backpedal. The second touchdown pass was under more duress, and Ponder was able to throw accurately to the side of the defender's body before Rudolph had turned. Even though Rudolph was tightly covered, the pass was located at the exact point the tight end needed to be able to take advantage of his body position. Ponder's final passing line of 21/35 for 198 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions was a testament to how efficient the quarterback was in the winning effort. The only negative that could be added was an attempt in the fourth quarter, when under heavy pressure Ponder threw the ball right in to the hands of Donte Whitner. It should have been an interception, but Whitner couldn't hold on.
2012 Week 4 vs DET (16 / 26 / 111 / 0 / 0 pass, 1 / 5 / 0 rush)
The gameplan for Ponder this week was similar to the very successful one used against the San Francisco 49ers in week three-use short, high percentage passes to move the chains and take what the defense gives you to avoid the pass rush. It didn't hurt that the Lions' pass rush seems defanged lately and they were only able to sack Ponder twice. The second year quarterback is looking more and more comfortable with each game, and did a good job reading the defense and moving through his progressions without panicking when there is pressure. A lot of the offense is very simple at this point-short passes that at times look predetermined. Whether that is Ponder choosing out a receiver before the snap or a pre-planned choice ahead of time is hard to say. Ponder was also able to involve Jerome Simpson as well without any real issue or speed bumps. The ability to go deep is one the Vikings haven't had the chance to do and while they didn't force the ball long, they took advantage of Simpson's speed and size. Two of the longer attempts to Simpson drew pass interference penalties and extended drives that were faltering.While the team is not going to just air the ball out-it's clearly not Ponder's strength at present-they are not afraid to take some shots downfield. If there was a down point for Ponder, it was an inability to find the end zone. The offense, while able to move the chains, was unable to find the end zone. Against a team which gets out ahead early, Ponder may find himself struggling to play catch up when he can't rely on shorter passes and the ground game.
2012 Week 5 vs TEN (25 / 35 / 258 / 2 / 2 pass, 3 / 31 / 0 rush)
Ponder was coolly efficient against the Titans in week 5. Despite throwing two interceptions (one on a tipped ball), Ponder spread the ball around and kept the defense guessing. He targeted nine different receivers and targeted both sides of the field evenly throughout the contest. His best throw came on a 15 yard strike to Michael Jenkins where Jenkins found himself wide open to the right in the Tennessee red zone. Ponder correctly identified the coverage gap and quickly got the ball to Jenkins for a first down inside the Titan five yard line. Ponder also carried the ball three times for 31 yards and continues to show improved decision making when it comes to knowing when to pass, when to throw the ball away, and when to scramble. To their credit, the Vikings' offensive line is giving Ponder plenty of time to work and he is showing an increased level of comfort each week.
2012 Week 6 vs WAS (35 / 52 / 352 / 2 / 2 pass, 4 / 13 / 0 rush)
Christian Ponder has shown a lot of improvement this season so far, but the raw still-developing quarterback will still shine through on more than one occasion during a game. While he can throw a pretty ball, he also locks into Percy Harvin and to a lesser extent, Kyle Rudolph entirely too often. For example, on the Vikings' second drive, Ponder fakes a handoff to Harvin and rolls out to his left. It seems very clear that he is locked onto Rudolph, if not the whole way, pretty close to it. He delivers a strike to the tight end, but Rudolph is well covered and it is incomplete. Meanwhile Devin Aromashodu is wide open between the zones for what would have been a much bigger gain. One can't blame Ponder for trusting Rudolph over Aromashodu, but that pass was earmarked for Rudolph from the sap and it's entirely possible he never even looked for Aromashodu. That in and of itself is the problem. Still these are developmental speed bumps and often he follows a questionable throw up with a very nice one, as he did in this case with a 23 yard strike to Harvin. This tendency was what put the dagger in the Vikings' on Sunday as well as Ponder, scrambling to try and make a play with time winding down and Minnesota down 12 points, threw a terribly ill-advices (and just plain terrible) pass towards Harvin and into the waiting hands of Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall. The ball was really short and there was at least one defender besides Hall between Harvin and the ball. Ponder is still learning, and this entire game reminds us he still has a lot of that to do. Of course, his first interception--a pick six earlier that same quarter, was not well thrown, far over his receiver's head and nowhere near any other Viking. Safety Madieu Williams did have a nice catch on the ball, and then ran it back for the touchdown. Overall, Ponder played all right, but his mistakes loomed far too large at the end of the game.
2012 Week 7 vs ARI (8 / 17 / 58 / 1 / 2 pass, 1 / 2 / 0 rush)
Ponder's day was mostly ugly, and a large amount of credit has to go to the Arizona Cardinals' pass rush. Pressured throughout the game, Ponder was often able to escape or elude defenders. However, when scrambling, Ponder showed a terrible habit of abandoning all of his throwing mechanics and just flinging the ball forward. His first interception came after Minnesota had just recovered a fumble. Flushed out the pocket and under heavy duress, Ponder threw the ball both above and behind an open Kyle Rudolph. The ball landed right in Paris Lenon's hands. His second interception was similar: at the end of the first half, flushed out of the pocket and scrambling, looking for someone to throw to, Ponder floated a ball to no one in particular and Sam Acho dove underneath it. A sack or an incompletion and the half would end with Minnesota up by a touchdown. But by floating a ball to no one but the defender, Ponder handed Arizona the opportunity to kick a field goal and close the gap. Luckily for Ponder, Jay Feely missed the field goal, but that was an error that could have really hurt the Vikings. Ponder did have a nice touchdown pass in the second quarter however, on a very clever play call that allowed Percy Harvin to find space in front of the goal line. An accurate pass was needed, and Ponder was able to deliver a perfect ball that allowed Harvin to use his incredible speed to score. But the negatives outweigh the positives in this game for the quarterback. When the pocket broke down, Ponder showed that he has the athleticism to get away from defenders and avoid sacks, but the decision making and break down of mechanics is extremely worrisome. For much of the second half, as the Arizona defense brought more and more pressure, Ponder played worse and worse, looking rattled and confused. The amount of hits and pressure took any bite away from the Minnesota passing game, and by the fourth quarter Minnesota stopped passing altogether, leaning on their success in the run game to finish off the Cardinals.
2012 Week 8 vs TB (19 / 35 / 251 / 1 / 1 pass, 4 / 12 / 0 rush)
Ponder is another promising young quarterback that does not have the pieces around him to consistently succeed. This week against Tampa Bay was another example of that. Outside of quick throws to Percy Harvin and handing off the ball to Adrian Peterson, it takes a great play from Ponder for the offense to move. The offensive line far too often allowed pressure, making Ponder's game more about survival than sustained drives. Ponder had a few moments of excellence throwing the ball, but those did not translate to the box score. He was accurate on deep passes to Jerome Simpson and Percy Harvin, resulting in big gains. Both were 'wow' throws that leaves a feeling of promise regarding Ponder. Those impressive plays were overshadowed this week with many plays left on the field. When pressured, his mechanics take a backseat. On third downs, Ponder commonly faded back in the pocket, away from the pressure, and threw the ball away or took a sack. When stepping up in the pocket, Ponder's mobility was a valued asset, but just as many times he used it to work his way backwards into bad decisions and negative plays. The Vikings are not a team built to play from behind and they were consistently playing catch-up this week. Ponder gets another tough test traveling to Seattle in Week 9.
2012 Week 9 vs SEA (11 / 22 / 63 / 0 / 1 pass, 5 / 23 / 0 rush)
A terrible day for Ponder, who was barely able to complete passes beyond the line of scrimmage. Even with a running game that was incredibly successful, Ponder looked rattled throughout the game and made poor decisions and poor throws even when given time. One instance of unforced inaccuracy occurred on a designed throw to Percy Harvin in the flat. Even though Ponder wasn't under pressure and Harvin was open, Ponder was unable to throw an accurate pass due to sloppy mechanics. His wide receivers didn't do him any favors, as the unit as a whole could not gain any separation from the physical secondary of Seattle. Ponder was forced to hold on to the ball much too long, usually resulting in a sack or Ponder scrambling for any yardage possible. However, there were numerous instances when a receiver did get open and Ponder made the wrong decision, such as a throw in the 4th quarter to a double covered receiver even though Percy Harvin had just cut inside and found space. In the first half, Ponder did have some success with short throws in the flats and wide receiver screens. Though these completions should have built his confidence, his accuracy only degraded as the game went on, due in part to Seattle's success in pressuring throws and flushing Ponder out of the pocket. His interception was both a bad throw and a bad decision, as Harvin was pushed out of bounds and no longer an eligible receiver, as well as Brandon Browner having the inside position. Ponder threw it to Harvin anyway, and Browner made a good adjustment to intercept the underthrown pass.
2012 Week 10 vs DET (24 / 32 / 221 / 2 / 0 pass, 7 / 15 / 0 rush)
Ponder very much plays within himself in this offense. He didn't turn the ball over as he relied on his athletic ability on numerous occasions and spread the ball out to backs, tight ends and receivers with short throws. His one deep pass of the day set up a touchdown, when he hit Jairus Wright deep down the field, but for the most part the Vikings' passing game was just a complementary piece of the offense behind Adrian Peterson. Ponder's two touchdowns were relatively easy throws, but good decisions. He hit Wright in the flat when he was wide open from a bunch formation, before throwing to Kyle Rudolph by the sideline. Rudolph carried the ball most of the way to the endzone. Ponder doesn't make mistakes and wears down defenses as a part of the offense as a whole.
2012 Week 12 vs CHI (22 / 43 / 159 / 1 / 1 pass, 2 / 6 / 0 rush)
Ponder was the victim of a Chicago Bear defense that was looking to redeem itself after an embarrassing performance on Monday night. Ponder was sacked on the first play of the game due to intense pressure up the middle from Henry Melton and while he was only sacked one other time on the day, he was hit seven times and under constant pressure from the Chicago defensive line. Losing Percy Harvin didn't help, and Ponder frequently checked the ball down or went with a short pass rather than risk throwing the ball down the field. His most effective plays were play action roll outs where Adrian Peterson would run one way and Ponder would roll the other with Kyle Rudolph out as the lead receiver. Ponder would dump Rudolph the ball and he would take off up the field. 40 of Rudolph's team high 55 yards receiving came on these plays, including the TD pass in the third quarter. Only ten of his passes were completed to wide receivers, and only three of them were for first downs. Ponder felt much more comfortable checking down to a tight end or to Adrian Peterson. The few times he did go deeper down the field, he either overthrew his target or it was intercepted. That interception was set up with a play action pass, but Ponder didn't set up the throw correctly and pushed the ball more than threw it. It was easily picked off and the Bears ran it back to the Minnesota 13. They scored on the next play. Ponder scrambled only twice in this game, and he was stopped well short of the first down on both occasions. While Ponder clearly struggled against an aggressive Chicago offense, he wasn't helped by guys like Jerome Simpson and John Carlon dropping passes. While Jarius Wright and Adrian Peterson also had seven and six receptions respectively, all were short, underneath routes and only two of them went for first downs.
2012 Week 13 vs GB (12 / 25 / 119 / 1 / 2 pass, 6 / 28 / 0 rush)
The Vikings may have a problem on their hands, and his name is Ponder. Sure, he has few impact receivers with Percy Harvin out but at some point starting quarterback is able to do something with even meager talent around him. Ponder's penchant for drive killing interceptions cost the Vikings this game, and it's not the first time either. Both interceptions Sunday were brutal, but the one which he threw in the end zone was the more devastating. The play came at the start of the third quarter, which Adrian Peterson kicked off with a brilliant 48 yard run to put the Vikings in position to score. The Vikings were ahead at the time and another touchdown would have changed the tenor of the game. Several things happened on the play which led to the horrible throw by Ponder. First, it seemed clear that tight end Kyle Rudolph was--as is often the case--Ponder's first read. Ponder ran a play-fake designed to get Packers' linebacker Erik Walden to bite and jump in, leaving Rudolph open. Walden didn't bite and stayed with Rudolph, eliminating that option. Secondly, left guard Charlie Johnson quit on his block and allowed defensive lineman Mike Neal to get past him too quickly. Watching it, Johnson almost seems to expect Ponder to stay in the pocket which seems to show there was some miscommunication on the play. Neal comes hard at Ponder who, to his credit, is able to avoid him and head upfield towards the line of scrimmage. Rudolph is doing a good job of holding his block on Walden at this point, but Ponder isn't looking to run--he wants to throw and is keeping his eyes downfield looking for someone. The problem is, there isn't anyone. Receiver Michael Jenkins is sliding across the back of the end zone but Packers' safety Morgan Burnett is in near perfect position. Jenkins had made a sharp cut and almost lost Burnett but was still covered. Either Ponder didn't see him at all or thought he could thread the needle--neither was a good choice, especially on second down when he could throw the ball away or run for a short gain. Add to it that Ponder was on the run, throwing the opposite direction and across his body and there is little positive to see in the play. This is the issue with Ponder and was evident in both interceptions--he misses something obvious and makes a poor choice. On both interceptions he didn't see Burnett haunting his target, though on the second interception which ended the third quarter, Burnett made a great play to get the ball. However, Ponder had a beautiful one on one match-up on the right side where the defender was playing way off the receiver. Instead, Ponder tried to force the ball to Rudolph and was picked off. Ponder is starting to look a little too much like struggling quarterbacks such as the Jets' Mark Sanchez--spooked, unable to read coverage and prone to forcing throws where they shouldn't go. Of course, Ponder's two interceptions helped squander another tremendous game by Adrian Peterson. Despite teams trying hard to stop Peterson--and failing--Ponder has been unable to find a way to take advantage of it. At some point the Vikings have to take another look at the quarterback position--the question is only whether they wait until they are eliminated from the playoffs before they consider a switch under center.
2012 Week 14 vs CHI (11 / 17 / 91 / 0 / 1 pass, 4 / 0 / 0 rush)
Ponder defined the role of game manager against the Bears, taking full advantage of the fact that Adrian Peterson had over 100 yards rushing in the first quarter. Ponder was content to simply sit back and hand the ball off to Peterson until it absolutely mattered. When he did through, he was reasonably accurate in the short passing game, but anything over 15 yards looked like a floating air bubble that could be picked off at any time. Just before half time, Ponder was under pressure from the Chicago defense and he simply chucked the ball down the middle of the field. He had no mechanics on the throw, it was off his back foot and the ball had absolutely zero zip on it. It fell about 8 yards short of the intended target and was easily picked off. Fortunately for the Vikings, Chicago had no time to capitalize on the turnover and the half ended with the Vikings leading 14-7. To be fair to Ponder, Devin Aromashodu dropped a pass in the end zone and whenever Ponder dropped back, the Chicago defense was right in his face. But after the interception, he managed to stay clean, checking down or throwing the ball away when he was in trouble. He attempted just eight passes in the second half, the longest of which was a 14 yard catch and run to Peterson in the third quarter.
2012 Week 15 vs STL (17 / 24 / 131 / 0 / 0 pass, 4 / 6 / 1 rush)
Ponder missed the opportunity for a touchdown on the first drive of the play. He threw some very accurate passes into tight coverage to move his offense down the field, but after play-action on fourth and one, Ponder rolled outside and ran for the first but settled to run out of bounds instead of fighting forward for the endzone. Ponder made up for it three plays later when he wrestled himself away from a defender in the pocket before scrambling into the endzone outside left tackle. Ponder was playing well and making some very accurate throws to move the chains. He was sacked midway through the third quarter for a fumble, but fortunately the ball went out of bounds. Ponder should have felt the pressure from behind and tucked the ball to his chest considering the situation. Ponder followed that with a terrible attempt at throwing a quick slant on third and 26 when the ball went straight to a waiting Trumaine Johnson. Johnson did everything but catch the ball.
2012 Week 16 vs HOU (16 / 30 / 174 / 1 / 0 pass, 7 / 48 / 0 rush)
After weeks of startling mediocrity, Ponder broke through in a big way against the Texans. While his accuracy continues to be an issue, Ponder was able to use his feet to avoid the Texans' stout pass rush. His best throw came on the Vikings first touchdown. On the second down play, ponder faked a handoff to Adrian Peterson before rolling out to the left. He scrambled towards the sideline until the last possible moment when he delivered a strike to Kyle Rudolph for the score. Despite a low overall yardage total, Ponder looked comfortable in the pocket in leading the offense to the upset win. He had a nice pass down the right sideline for a large gain as well. That said, Ponder continues to struggle when called upon to deliver the ball in tight spaces and his ability to throw the ball downfield is almost non-existent.
2012 Week 17 vs GB (16 / 28 / 234 / 3 / 0 pass, 2 / 16 / 0 rush)
Ponder was very much a complement to Peterson early on, but he was making good decisions with the ball and scrambling effectively when need be. He did have an opportunity to put the ball in the endzone when he slightly overthrew a difficult patter to Jairus Wright in the corner of the endzone. Wright almost came down with the ball, but it was just slightly too far out of his reach. Ponder made a very dangerous throw over the middle of the field under pressure when the ball lofted into the air. Not to worry, Ponder and Wright would find each other for a touchdown on the next drive as Ponder underthrew a pass to Wright in the flat, but the receiver adjusted well to it before diving into the endzone from 10 yards out. After Peterson drove the team down the field, Ponder escaped from the pocket on a bootleg at the goalline. Peterson was ahead of him streaking across the field uncovered, and Ponder hit him in stride for another easy touchdown. Ponder completed his longest pass of the season to Jairus Wright with a perfect deep pass in the fourth quarter. He followed that up with a perfect pass to Michael Jenkins in the endzone, but Jenkins couldn't hold onto it as he fell to the ground. With the Vikings unable to run it in, Ponder had to scramble around behind the line of scrimmage before escaping the pocket and finding Michael Jenkins in the endzone. It wasn't the best of throws from Ponder, but Jenkins worked back to it for the touchdown. As the Vikings looked to drive for the game-winning score, Ponder start off with an outstanding throw against cover 2 coverage to Michael Jenkins. Ponder understood the coverage to find Jenkins uncovered and slightly underthrew the ball to keep him away from the safety.
2011 Week 6 vs CHI (9 / 17 / 99 / 0 / 0 pass, 1 / 8 / 0 rush)
Ponder replaced McNabb to start the fourth quarter and while McNabb was not having a bad game up until that point, there are strong indications that Ponder could assume control of the team from this point forward. With the Vikings down by 29, and a rookie QB at the helm, the Bears put a ton of pressure on the young QB, blitzing on almost every down and bringing pressure from all different sides and angles. Ponder responded about as well as expected, and showed good escape ability and pocket movement to keep the play alive. On his second play from scrimmage, he took a play action roll-out, tucked the ball under his arm and ran for eight yards and a first down, scampering out of bounds and avoiding the hard shot. It was an indication of how the rest of the game would go. Ponder spent most of the final minutes, scrambling for his life, but never really taking the hard shot or big sack. He kept the offense moving and although he turned the ball over on downs on consecutive drives, he was able to move the ball against the Chicago defense and showed that he can escape the pressure, keep the play alive and throw the ball downfield to the open man if needed. While he overthrew a couple of his receivers, he was right on target with other throws and finished the game with *** completions for *** yards. With two tough games coming up against Green Bay, Ponder could take over the starting job from this point forward.
2011 Week 7 vs GB (13 / 32 / 219 / 2 / 2 pass, 4 / 31 / 0 rush)
For a rookie QB who had never started an NFL game to come in against the Super Bowl Champions was a pretty tall order. Ponder did that and then some. He performed well against the division rival Packers and proved that he deserves to be in the starting lineup for Minnesota from here on out. He opened the game with a play action to Adrian Peterson, and then flicked the ball deep down the left side of the field to a wide open Michael Jenkins. Jenkins sprinted for the goal line, but was tripped up and landed at the one. Ponder showed great poise and leadership to come back on the field after the play was reversed, and roll out to hit Visanthe Shiancoe in the back of the end zone on a PERFECT pass just two plays later. For the game, Ponder proved to be a pretty solid QB - rolling out to avoid trouble and moving the pocket around to buy time until the receivers were open down the field. He made sharp, accurate throws on the run and when the defense took everything away, he bootlegged toward the sideline or up the middle to make a play. His two interceptions were typical of a rookie QB - the first being a lack of experience in dealing with the speed and precision of a sideline route and the other being a play over the middle where his receiver was open, but he threw the ball a little behind him and it was picked off. To his credit, he was picked by Charles Woodson - one of the top CBS in the league. The biggest boost for Ponder is that the team seemed to want to play for him. Even when they went from being up at half time to down early in the 3rd by giving up two quick TDS to Green Bay, the offense never quit. Ponder will probably be the QB the rest of the season for Minnesota, and although he'll make some rookie mistakes, the team will be better off with him in the driver seat.
2011 Week 8 vs CAR (18 / 28 / 236 / 1 / 0 pass, 4 / 4 / 0 rush)
Christian Ponder's second start was an up and down outing as one would expect from a rookie. Ponder and the Vikings offense relied heavily on the ground game throughout, but when it did not bear fruit Ponder impressively found time in the pocket and dropped it off to his check down options or to TE Visanthe Shiancoe. Ponder's mobility is a highlight of his game and he showed it on several occasions. On one play, he shuffled left and out of the pocket, finding Shiancoe on a crosser for a first down. In the second half as the Vikings rushing attack began to click, Ponder's role was decreased but when he was asked to convert on third down he did it confidently. Ponder is a definite upgrade over Donovan McNabb even though he may be more prone to poor decisions. However, Ponder never hurt his team and kept things under control. His lone touchdown pass came on a screen pass to Adrian Peterson, who did the rest by cutting it across the field and walking in. Ponder is a promising rookie quarterback who showed progress from last week.
2011 Week 10 vs GB (16 / 34 / 190 / 0 / 1 pass, 2 / 17 / 0 rush)
What do you expect from a rookie only starting his 3rd game against a team that just saw him 3 weeks ago? Green Bay is not a top notch defense or secondary but they sure were able to adjust taking on Ponder the 2nd time around. You don't want to make excuses for Ponder but he has very few real weapons to work with right now. He started shaky and was not able to extend many drives in the 1st half but as the game started to settle in during the 2nd half and down 31-7 at that point, Ponder did start firing some bullets. He did a nice job after getting tattooed on a sack to come right back and look off a short outlet to fire it down field and connect with Michael Jenkins for a big 1st down. Ponder was able to move a defender off the receiver he wanted go to which in that case was Jenkins by looking the short guy up as if he might throw the ball there. That is something you don't see a lot of young QBs do. It's easy to look at Ponder's numbers and think he was awful but he showed flashes of what is likely to come in 2012 and beyond. His biggest problem right now though is staring down his receivers at times and that is a natural rookie tendency.
2011 Week 11 vs OAK (19 / 33 / 211 / 2 / 3 pass, 5 / 71 / 0 rush)
The Raiders took full advantage of Ponder's youth and inexperience in this game, and rushed him from every angle. They were constantly in the backfield and Ponder spent much of the game running for his life. Due to the heavy pressure up the middle, Ponder was able to break some long runs by rolling away from the pressure and getting outside into the open field. On the play after Peterson was hurt, Ponder scrambled to the right side of the field to avoid the pressure. When he saw that there was no defender in front of him, he took off down the sideline for a huge 28 yard gain. It was Minnesota's longest run of the day. Ponder looked like a rookie under fire in this game, and despite playing as best that he could, his mistakes ultimately cost the Vikings the game. Early in the second quarter, with the Vikings at the Oakland 21, Ponder threw a deep corner route to Percy Harvin, but the ball hung in the air too long, and the safety was able to jump the route for the red zone interception. In the 4th, when the Vikings had driven down to the Oakland five yard line, Ponder again scrambled to avoid pressure and tried to force the ball into Devin Aromashodu in the end zone. However, there were three defenders in the area and he was easily picked off for the touchback. The key hope for Vikings fans though is that despite the pressure and red zone mistakes, Ponder kept fighting. He's a scrappy kid who is always looking to find a way, and despite the turn overs, he had his team in a position to win the game with less than three minutes to go. His line simply couldn't give him the protection that he needed to get the ball downfield.
2011 Week 12 vs ATL (17 / 25 / 186 / 1 / 0 pass, 2 / 9 / 0 rush)
Christian Ponder continued to show improvement as QB and did all that can be expected of a rookie with a somewhat limited offense. He was unable to do a lot of routine things that most QB's don't even need to think of but redeemed himself with some very nice throws to keep the game interesting. Ponder was short on a lot of passes throughout the game and it cost him some completions. WR Jenkins was wide open on the sideline but Ponder fired into the dirt despite no pressure near him. Ponder also made some risky throws that were late and he was almost picked off on an out route. He also threw back over the middle of the field across his body but managed to get away with such a risky move and picked up a first down. Ponder did not do well with a pass rush even near him and took a lot of unnecessary sacks. He walked into sacks, did not know where to step up and did not throw the ball away when he could have evaded the loss of yards which hurt his team. The one aspect Ponder managed to do really well was find WR Harvin. Ponder enjoyed excellent pass protection on his touchdown pass as he surveyed the field and led WR Harvin with a perfect pass deep over the middle that was just out of the reach of any ATL defender. Ponder was more bad then good on Sunday but has a lot of easily correctable mistakes and kept his team in the game
2011 Week 13 vs DEN (29 / 47 / 381 / 3 / 2 pass, 1 / 12 / 0 rush)
Ponder put up huge numbers in this game, but committed three key turnovers, which ultimately cost Minnesota the game. He had the Vikings driving deep in Denver territory early in the 1st quarter, but S Brian Dawkins punched the ball out of his grasp. The fumble was recovered by Denver and carried all the way out to midfield. On the Vikings' next possession, Ponder failed to see LB Mario Haggan dropping into coverage and threw the pass right to him and Haggan took the ball 17 yards for a TD, giving the Broncos a 7-2 lead. The Broncos brought blitzes all day, testing the rookie QB's ability to handle pressure, and he responded very well with only a few exceptions. Ponder had a good bit of success rolling out and making simple reads (primarily to WR Percy Harvin). It is a shame to see a performance like Ponder's in this game end up in a losing effort, but he simply made too many critical mistakes and was outshined by yet another Tim Tebow comeback. It was Ponder, though, who made that comeback necessary as he was accurate and, for the most part, made good decisions with the ball in his hands. It didn't hurt to have Harvin take a couple of short passes and turn them into long scoring plays, but Ponder made a number of plays that showed why the Vikings chose him with the 12th overall pick. Ponder seems to have a similar impact on the emotion of the Vikings that Tebow has with the Broncos and shows a great deal of poise and maturity for a rookie. Never was this more evident than on 3rd and 7 late in the 4th quarter with the score tied at 29. The Broncos came on a blitz, rushing six and Ponder stuck in the pocket and delivered a strike to WR Stephen Burton for a 17-yard gain, helping to set up the go ahead FG. After seemingly atoning for his early mistakes, Ponder made one last, fatal error. After the Broncos had tied the game with a minute and a half to go, Ponder made a terrible read and through the ball right into the waiting hands of CB Andre Goodman, who took the ball inside the Minnesota 20, setting up the game winning FG for Denver.
2011 Week 14 vs DET (11 / 21 / 115 / 2 / 3 pass, 2 / 13 / 0 rush)
Ponder had a terrible game for the Vikings, and was pulled shortly into the third quarter after throwing his third interception and taking a hard shot away from the football. On his first play from scrimmage, Ponder dropped back, cocked his arm and had the ball knocked out into the end zone. The Lions fell on the ball and it was recovered for a TD. On his next pass attempt, Ponder tried to force the ball into triple coverage to Devin Aromashodu and it was intercepted for his second turnover. Down 21-0, Ponder did lead the Vikings on an 80 yard drive to get on the board, with a seven yard TD pass to Visanthe Shiancoe. The pass was a beautiful play where Shiancoe stayed in to block, then released into the flat and Ponder flipped him the ball on a screen. Ponder's next pass though, was a telegraphed pass to Greg Camarillo and defender jumped the coverage for a pick six to give Detroit a 28-7 lead. Ponder had another TD pass mid-way through the second quarter - a quick slant to Percy Harvin where Ponder threaded the needle to put the Vikings within 2 scores. However, as the Vikings started the third quarter, they were down 31-14, and in need of a score. On his fifth play from scrimmage, Ponder rolled out to avoid the pressure, tried to throw across his body to Percy Harvin over the middle and it was picked off for his third interception. Ponder also took a hard shot which drew a 15 yard unnecessary roughness penalty. The Vikings pulled him after that to avoid him self-destructing and protect him from taking any more cheap shots from the Lions. He finished the day with just 115 yards passing, 2 TDS and 4 turnovers.
2011 Week 15 vs NO (14 / 31 / 120 / 2 / 1 pass, 3 / 34 / 0 rush)
Whether or not the crop of young QBs starting this season have all the physical tools to be NFL QBs, they have nearly all demonstrated a great deal of poise. Ponder is no exception as He still makes the typical mistakes a young QB makes, but he doesn't seem to play as though the game is too big for him. He has decent pocket presence and uses his feet well to take advantage of over-aggressive pass rushers. The Saints did a nice job of limiting Ponder's ability to stretch the field, keeping the passing game in front of them and forcing Ponder to settle for shorter passes. He made many good, strong throws, but his longest completion was only 16 yards. While he took quite a few shots downfield, he completed none of them and this only served to widen the gap in time of possession as the Saints kept the ball nearly 40 minutes.
2011 Week 16 vs WAS (8 / 13 / 68 / 0 / 0 pass, 4 / 20 / 0 rush)
Ponder had a fair start to his day but left early in the 3rd quarter. Ponder showed the ability to run for first downs if he did not see anything open to his receivers. Also, Minnesota designed a run for him where Ponder faked it to Peterson then ran around the corner for another first down. Ponder also had a long reception dropped by his TE Shiancoe. It was a perfect pass that should have been caught. Finally Ponder just missed a TD pass as WR Percy Harvin was tackled on the 1 yard line. Ponder seems to be grasping the offense well for a rookie, and hopefully the injury will not keep him out of the final game. But the way Qb Joe Webb played today definitely casts some doubt to Ponder's future.
2011 Week 17 vs CHI (4 / 10 / 28 / 0 / 1 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
In what is becoming a common theme, Ponder started off rough and then left injured after a hard hit. He looked to be in serious pain after being driven into the carpet on his hip. Before the injury he was erratic at best, throwing behind receivers and to the wrong team. His one interception came on a ball thrown in the flats to Toby Gerhart. The RB did all he could to get a hand on the ball well behind him, and inadvertently tipped it to Charles Tillman who took it to the house for a pick six. Ponder was injured on his very next throw and did not return.