Ponder looks poised, more productive in win

Christian Ponder was a big reason the Vikings converted 50 percent of their third downs for the second straight game after not doing that in the first six games. He also had the Vikings' first passer rating in excess of 100 this season.

In his first career NFL start, Christian Ponder was given a lot more credit than his numbers warranted. In last week's loss to the Packers, Ponder completed just 13 of 32 passes (41 percent) and had two touchdowns and two interceptions. Lowlighted by a dismal third quarter in which he went 0-for-5 passing with two interceptions, Ponder's first outing was an improvement over what Donovan McNabb had provided, but, with a passer rating of just 59.2, Ponder's outing was more flashes of promise than immediate results.

In Sunday's game, Ponder earned his first career victory as a starting quarterback because he was much more effective. A week after completing just 13 of 32 passes and throwing a pair of second-half interceptions, against the Panthers, he completed 18 of 28 passes for 236 yards with one touchdown, no interceptions and a passer rating of 102.7 – significant jumps in all passing categories.

"I'm just extremely excited about the way Christian has taken over the leadership role on our team and really not just with our offense, but asking guys to kind of follow him," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier. "He's done a terrific job in his second start, and it just gives you a lot of hope for the future of our team."

Those who saw the game witnessed the on-field maturation of Ponder, who wouldn't get flustered in the second half as he did in his first start. He not only led the Vikings on two long second-half scoring drives, he did so on drives that started on his own 10- and 15-yard lines, respectively.

On the first touchdown drive, Ponder completed a perfect 12-yard pass to Visanthe Shiancoe in which he was bracketed by two defenders and the quarterback had a very small window in which to fit the ball. He was fearless and threw a dart that hit Shiancoe between the "8" and the "1" on his jersey. On what would prove to be the game-winning series, Ponder went 5-for-5 for 43 yards on a drive that ate more than seven minutes off the clock in the final 10 minutes of the game.

Against the Packers, it appeared at times that Ponder was in a little over his head. Taking the field in the second half facing a seven-point deficit after the Panthers scored on the opening drive of the second half, Ponder rallied his offense to a win and looked very poised in the process.

As a team, the Vikings converted 50 percent of their third downs. Last week, in Ponder's first start, they converted 56 percent. In previous six games, they never reached 50 percent. Much of that has to do with Ponder, who on Sunday completed 9 of 10 third-down passes.

"Obviously we're a big third-down passing team. We've got to treat it like we do every other play," Ponder said. "Obviously it's big for us to convert third down. A lot of times it's man coverage and we've got the players to beat man coverage. We kept doing it."

Numbers can speak volumes when it comes to quarterback success and nobody can deny that Ponder's performance in his second start was markedly more impressive than his debut vs. Green Bay. But the only number that matters is the number that got added to the Vikings' 2011 win column.


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":" In his first career NFL start, Christian Ponder was given a lot more credit than his numbers warranted. In last week's loss to the Packers, Ponder completed just 13 of 32 passes (41 percent) and had two touchdowns and two interceptions. Lowlighted by a dismal third quarter in which he went 0-for-5 passing with two interceptions, Ponder's first outing was an improvement over what Donovan McNabb had provided, but, with a passer rating of just 59.2, Ponder's outing was more flashes of promise than immediate results. In Sunday's game, Ponder earned his first career victory as a starting quarterback because he was much more effective. A week after completing just 13 of 32 passes and throwing a pair of second-half interceptions, against the Panthers, he completed 18 of 28 passes for 236 yards with one touchdown, no interceptions and a passer rating of 102.7 – significant jumps in all passing categories. \"I'm just extremely excited about the way Christian has taken over the leadership role on our team and really not just with our offense, but asking guys to kind of follow him,\" Vikings coach Leslie Frazier. \"He's done a terrific job in his second start, and it just gives you a lot of hope for the future of our team.\" Those who saw the game witnessed the on-field maturation of Ponder, who wouldn't get flustered in the second half as he did in his first start. He not only led the Vikings on two long second-half scoring drives, he did so on drives that started on his own 10- and 15-yard lines, respectively. On the first touchdown drive, Ponder completed a perfect 12-yard pass to Visanthe Shiancoe in which he was bracketed by two defenders and the quarterback had a very small window in which to fit the ball. He was fearless and threw a dart that hit Shiancoe between the \"8\" and the \"1\" on his jersey. On what would prove to be the game-winning series, Ponder went 5-for-5 for 43 yards on a drive that ate more than seven minutes off the clock in the final 10 minutes of the game. Against the Packers, it appeared at times that Ponder was in a little over his head. Taking the field in the second half facing a seven-point deficit after the Panthers scored on the opening drive of the second half, Ponder rallied his offense to a win and looked very poised in the process. As a team, the Vikings converted 50 percent of their third downs. Last week, in Ponder's first start, they converted 56 percent. In previous six games, they never reached 50 percent. Much of that has to do with Ponder, who on Sunday completed 9 of 10 third-down passes. \"Obviously we're a big third-down passing team. We've got to treat it like we do every other play,\" Ponder said. \"Obviously it's big for us to convert third down. A lot of times it's man coverage and we've got the players to beat man coverage. We kept doing it.\" Numbers can speak volumes when it comes to quarterback success and nobody can deny that Ponder's performance in his second start was markedly more impressive than his debut vs. Green Bay. But the only number that matters is the number that got added to the Vikings' 2011 win column. 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