Ponder earns himself another start
REEN BAY, Wis. —At least Vikings coach Leslie Frazier won't have to make a quarterback announcement Monday.
Or Wednesday. Or Thursday. Or Friday.
One positive for the Vikings that came out of Sunday's 26-26 tie against the Packers at Lambeau Field was their quarterback situation is settled. At least for this week.
Nearly each week this season, there has been some suspense about who would start at quarterback. Frazier has waited until mid- to late-week to make his announcement.
But Christian Ponder did enough against the Packers to get the nod next Sunday against Chicago at the Metrodome.
"I don't know any reason why he wouldn't (start again)," Frazier said. "I don't know if it would be helping our football team not to start him."
Ponder completed 21 of 30 passes for 233 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He generally was solid, although Minnesota did bog down in the fourth quarter, when the Packers scored 16 straight points to wipe out a 23-7 lead and force overtime.
At least Ponder doesn't have to worry about any chance of Matt Cassel or Josh Freeman replacing him in the starting lineup. Cassel has two starts this season and Freeman one; Frazier has given the last five nods to Ponder.
"That's exciting," Ponder said about knowing early he will start against the Bears. "I'm definitely the guy that wants to be there. Everybody wants to be out there."
Ponder would have been a lot more excited had the Vikings been able to get a win. It looked as if they might on their first possession of overtime after Green Bay had taken a 26-23 lead.
But Packers cornerback Davon House got a hand on a Ponder pass and Cordarrelle Patterson couldn't hold on to what would have been a 17-yard, game-winning touchdown catch. Blair Walsh then kicked a 35-yard field goal to tie the score at 26-26 with 3:54 left in overtime.
"I think it did get tipped," Ponder said. "I'll have to see it on film. That stinks. That's something we got to convert on to win a game."
Ponder's showing was a lot better than the previous Sunday at Seattle, when he threw two costly fourth-quarter interceptions as the Seahawks won 41-20.
"You got to move on," Ponder said of bouncing back. "We have one game a week, and if you let things simmer and stay focused on them, you're going to play not as effectively as you should the next game. That's what I've learned throughout my career the three (NFL) years I've been playing."
Ponder was at his best in the first three quarters, when he completed 16 of 20 passes for 189 yards, including a 12-yard TD pass to tight end Rhett Ellison that put the Vikings up 20-7 midway through the third quarter. Ponder's passer rating of 122.7 entering the fourth quarter was on pace to top his career best of 120.2 set in a 37-34 home win over Green Bay in the 2012 regular-season finale.
He finished Sunday at 103.9, which was good enough overall for Frazier.
"He did a great job of getting the ball to the right people," Frazier said. "(He didn't have) any turnovers. He was really composed, ran the offense and was under control in every situation."
For that reason, Ponder has taken away some suspense this week.