Christian Ponder was finding receivers all over the field for a career game, but it was the two throws he made to the other team that left him frustrated. Plus, get more than a dozen notes that tell the tale of the game.
QB Christian Ponder
shattered the franchise's rookie record for passing yards in a game with 381. The old record was set in the Vikings inaugural season in 1961, when Fran Tarkenton threw for 277 yards against San Francisco.
He also set a personal single-game best not only for yardage, but for attempts (47), completions (29) and touchdowns (3). Still, he was far from happy with his performance, given the two interceptions and lost fumble.
"I thought as a team we played well and it hurts to go out and turn the ball over three times, toss them points, cost us points," Ponder said. "Can't win ballgames that way and I have to do a lot better job and get myself better. I'm disappointed in myself but it's hard to look these guys in the eyes, it's hard to look Jared Allen
in the eyes and tell him I had two picks and a fumble and I cost us the game."
Ponder went over 300 yards on a 48-yard touchdown to Harvin in the fourth quarter. It was the first 300-yard passing game of the season for the Vikings. On the same play, Harvin went over 100 yards receiving for the first time since Dec. 28, 2010 against Philadelphia.
"We talked about through the week that we were going to throw the ball more," Ponder said. "Having more plays on offense we've been running 60-70 plays and we wanted to get up into the 80s and 90s so we talked about it all week that we were going to put the ball in the air a little more."
Ponder was impressive throughout throwing the ball, tossing for 192 yards in the first half and 189 yards in the second half.
Harvin was targeted nine times Sunday, catching eight of them. Over the last two games, Harvin has been targeted 17 times, catching 16 of them for 251 yards and three touchdowns.
Devin Aromashodu hadn't been targeted more than six times in any game this season prior to Sunday, but was targeted 15 times Sunday, catching six of them for 90 yards – both personal bests as a Viking.
In his first 10 games combined, Gerhart caught just seven passes. He caught eight passes Sunday.
The teams combined to score 14 points in less than 30 seconds. After Harvin scored on a 52-yard touchdown pass to give the Vikings a 22-14 lead with 3:12 to play in the third quarter, the Broncos got a 63-yard kick return from Quan Cosby and, on the next play, Tebow bought time in the pocket and found a broken coverage – completing a 48-yard touchdown to Demaryius Thomas to make the score 22-21 with 2:48 to play in the third. In the fourth quarter, Harvin caught a 48-yard touchdown pass with 9:41 to play to give the Vikings a 29-21 lead, only to have Denver tie the game two plays later following a 42-yard pass to Thomas and a 24-yard scoring run by Willis McGahee that required just 49 seconds to accomplish.
After gaining 176 yards in the first three quarters combined, Denver's offense blew up for 160 yards in the fourth quarter.
In the third quarter, Brian Robison sustained a concussion and was taken off the field and to the locker room.
The Vikings dominated the first half thoroughly. They had 15 first downs in the first half, while Denver managed just one. The Vikings outgained the Broncos 214-46 and had one more offensive play (47) than Denver had yards. The Broncos ran just 19 offensive plays in the half and had the ball for just 8:54 of the game's first 30 minutes.
Late in the first half, Allen had the rare defensive trifecta, getting credited with a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery on the same play.
Kyle Rudolph was only thrown to once in the game, but it was a highlight film-style play, as he scored a touchdown by reaching around a defender's head to pluck the ball away from him and score the TD.
The NFL might need to look at the rationale of their current challenge rule. The Vikings used both of their challenges in first half and had both calls overturned. But, by league rules, despite being right on the first two, the Vikings had just one challenge left for the remainder of the game, even though they were right to challenge both of the calls on the field.
Denver didn't pick up its initial first down of the game until less than 11:40 remained in the first half, yet, at the time, they led 7-5.
Stephen Burton has his first career reception the second quarter – a 21-yard strike from Ponder over the middle.
There was a baseball theme to Sunday's game. Former Twin Paul Molitor sounded the Gjallarhorn that signaled the entrance of the Vikings to the field and Dave Winfield was an honorary captain during the coin toss.
Sunday's attendance was 62,939 – the 142nd straight sellout at the Metrodome dating back to 1998.
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.