Christian Ponder continued to put up good numbers in the second game of his second NFL season. However, there was one blemish on his record. Plus, get more than 20 notes that help tell the tale of the Vikings' 23-20 loss.
Despite his struggles to effectively move the offense, especially early, Christian Ponder
had another strong passing game, completing 27 of 35 passes for 245 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 114.6, exceeding the career high he set last week.
"He did some good things, especially late in the game to get us going. We just have to find a way across the board to play better early," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said.
Through two games, Ponder has completed 47 of 62 passes (an amazing 75.8 percent for 515 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a season passer rating of 110.6).
In 10 starts as a rookie, Ponder had a passer rating of just 70.1 and had just two games with a passer rating of more than 100.0. In two games this season, he has set a career best for single-game passer rating twice.
The one big blemish on his record is fumbles in consecutive games. His latest fumble came in the second quarter and was recovered by Cory Redding
. Nine plays later, the Colts had a 10-6 lead.
"The fumble, I wish I could have that back. Turnovers are tough to overcome," Ponder said.
The Vikings had the upper hand in many of the team statistics. They had more total yards (327-278), more first downs (19-17), a better third-down efficiency (7-of-15 for the Vikings, 7-of-16 for the Colts), better red zone touchdown efficiency (two TDs in three chances for the Vikings, one in three for Indianapolis) and better time of possession (30:22 to 29:38). But, the only stat that mattered was the final score – the one area where the Colts ended up with the better number.
Andrew Luck not only got his first NFL win, he erased the painful memory of his NFL debut in a blowout loss to the Bears in Week 1. He completed 20 of 31 passes for 224 yards, two touchdowns and a passer rating of 107.5.
While Luck's numbers were impressive, in the second half of the game he threw for just 76 yards – 40 of those coming on his final two passes.
After an emotional comeback last week, Adrian Peterson came back to earth against the Colts. He rushed 16 times for 60 yards with a long run of just 6 yards.
In the first half, Peterson had eight carries for 41 yards. In the second half, he had eight carries for 19 yards.
Despite fighting cramps in the second half, Percy Harvin was the receiving star of the game for the Vikings, catching a career-high 12 passes for 104 yards.
Through two games, Harvin has been the unquestioned leader of the Vikings in terms of yards gained, catching 18 passes for 188 yards, rushing seven times for 33 yards and returning five kickoffs for 166 yards – including a 50-yard return Sunday.
Had Austin Collie not been ruled out of today's game, wide receiver Donnie Avery wouldn't have started. He made the most of his opportunity, catching nine passes for 111 yards.
Blair Walsh remained perfect on his kicks. Through two games, he has scored 22 points, making all six of his field goals and all four of his extra points.
Perhaps more important was that Walsh bombed four of his five kickoffs out of the end zone for touchbacks.
Erin Henderson suffered an elbow injury late in the game but returned and led the team with 12 tackles and one sack.
The Vikings finally got their first sack from a defensive lineman when Everson Griffen threw Luck for a 22-yard loss in the fourth quarter, but Jared Allen, Brian Robison and Kevin Williams remain sackless through two games. Robison had Luck in his grasp once, but Luck escaped.
The Vikings have created just one turnover in their first two games.
Last year, the Vikings' primary problem was that we would get off to big early leads and get dominated in the second half. Through two games, the Vikings have been outscored 26-13 in the first half and outscored their opponents 33-20 after halftime.
In one of the stranger plays you will ever see, the Vikings got their first touchdown of the game with 5:07 to play in the fourth quarter. Ponder was looking for tight end Kyle Rudolph, but his pass got batted in the air by Indy defensive lineman Cory Redding, was tipped again by Rudolph in a jump ball situation and landed in the arms of Stephen Burton.
The TD was the first of Burton's career. As a rookie last year, he caught just two passes in limited action.
The Vikings defense did an excellent job of stopping the Indianapolis running backs, who combined to carry 23 times for just 56 yards.
Ponder didn't have an incompletion until 1:26 remained in the first half, completing his first eight passes.
The Vikings failed to take advantage of what could have been a huge game-changer in the second quarter. Already without offensive linemen Joe Reitz and Winston Justice, center Samson Satele went down to injury midway through the second quarter, forcing the Colts to move guard Mike McGlynn to center and insert Trai Essex, signed of the street on Monday, to the right guard spot.
Ponder was sacked four times Sunday, three of them coming in the first 20 minutes of the game.
Both teams started the game with long, time-consuming drives. The Vikings took the opening kickoff and held the ball for 7:12 on a 12-play drive. The Colts would respond with an 80-yard touchdown drive that consumed 6:59 on 12 plays. When the Vikings got the ball for the second time in the game, there were just 49 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
While the Colts technically play in a domed stadium, because it was sunny and 67 degrees in Indianapolis Sunday, they opened the roof and let the sun shine in.
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.