Notebook: ‘Relaxed' Ponder still the same

Christian Ponder said he was more relaxed, but it didn't matter. He didn't throw any interceptions or touchdowns as the offense sputtered for most of the game. Plus, one defender says the Vikings aren't tough mentally and other notes.

Christian Ponder didn't throw any interceptions Sunday night in a 44-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers, the first time he started and didn't thrown an interception this season.

The last time he didn't throw any interceptions was the regular-season finale last year against the Green Bay Packers, but he also didn't throw any touchdowns, leaving the coaching staff in position to once again consider a change at quarterback.

"We'll sit down (Monday) and talk it through and figure out what's the best way to go," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said.

Ponder completed 14 of 21 passes for 145 yards, took three sacks and finished with an 86.4 rating. He said he had "no idea" if he would be the starter next Sunday at Dallas.

Ponder started the first three games of the season, gave way to Matt Cassel for the next two starts and then Josh Freeman last Monday night. But after Freeman suffered a concussion, the Vikings made the decision to go with Ponder this week.

Freeman was cleared to practice Friday and is certainly a possibility to start against the Dallas Cowboys.

The Vikings had only one drive that went more than eight plays, an 11-play drive in the first half that ended with a field goal. Ponder's longest play was a 19-yard touchdown run. He didn't have any completions of 20 yards or more.

"I expected to play better. Our expectations are to go out there and win every game and obviously we didn't meet expectations, I didn't meet expectations," Ponder said. "I didn't play well enough for this offense to stay on the field, convert on third downs and put more points on the board to beat Green Bay. We didn't do it."

Ponder and his teammates said all week that he was more relaxed and in charge. He said that continued into the game, but the results didn't translate.

The offense scored only one touchdown in the first half and the Vikings were down 41-17 before they scored again with 4:42 to play.

That brings Freeman back into the equation and could mean Ponder's chances are running out.

"I wasn't thinking about that and I'm not thinking about that now," Ponder said. "What I'm focused on is getting this team turned around and winning games. That stuff is out of my control. I can control what I do on the field, what this offense does on the field and that call is out of my hands."

The Vikings have been hoping they could find a quarterback to create a threat in the passing game and take some pressure off Adrian Peterson. That hasn't happened yet.

"(Peterson) was our focus. Coming in here, I would make no bones about it," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "We watched the Monday night game and they went a different direction with their quarterback, but I've always felt that their offense starts with Adrian. Adrian is a great player. To have success against them as a football team, not only as a running back, he creates a momentum, a personality, an attitude and adrenaline on their sideline, especially in this stadium, so he was definitely our focus."

Ponder hasn't thrown a touchdown pass covering more than 20 yards since Dec. 4, 2011, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

"He had some moments. He did some good things, for example that two-minute drive, that was good and then there were some other times where he ran our offense pretty good," Frazier said. "There were times where he wasn't as comfortable as you'd like to see him in the pocket, but he did some positive things as well."

SECONDARY ISSUES

Despite not having James Jones, Randall Cobb or Jermichael Finley, the Packers were nearly flawless on third and fourth down. They converted 13 of 18 third downs and added another two conversions on fourth-down tries.

The Packers didn't punt and scored on every drive before kneeling on the ball at the end of the game. QB Aaron Rodgers was 10-for-10 for 172 yards and two touchdowns on third down.

SANFORD HURT AGAIN

S Jamarca Sanford was active and started the game after being questionable with an ankle injury suffered in Friday's practice, but he left in the first quarter with a hamstring injury and didn't return. Mistral Raymond played the rest of the game in his place.

TE Rhett Ellison was inactive with an ankle injury and the Vikings had Chase Ford, promoted from the practice squad on Saturday, active.

Also inactive for the Vikings were Freeman, CB Shaun Prater, RB Matt Asiata, G Jeff Baca, WR Rodney Smith and DT Chase Baker.

In addition to Jones and Finley, the Packers made LB Clay Matthews, CB James Nixon, LB Nick Perry, LB Brad Jones and TE Ryan Taylor inactive.

NOTES

  • Among the team captains for the Vikings were Ponder and former Packers WR Greg Jennings. Brian Robison and Chad Greenway were the others.

  • Jennings had just one catch for 9 yards and bolted out of the locker room before it was open to the media.


    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

  • Viking Update Top Stories