Although the final numbers don’t show it (13 of 32 for 219 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INT), Christian Ponder had a pretty good game in his first NFL start. Rookies will make mistakes early on (and some players never stop making rookie mistakes), so coming out of the game with two touchdown passes and two interceptions is a good outing for a rookie quarterback. If nothing else, he provided a jolt of energy to a team that (in Jim Souhan’s wording) “the previous week played with all of the enthusiasm of guys in orange jumpsuits picking up roadside trash”.
Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, however, didn’t make any mistakes worth mentioning. As the TV commentators put it, he was putting on a clinic during the first half, yet the scoreboard didn’t reflect how good he was, as the Packers were behind the Vikings at halftime 17-13.
Clint Starks at The Viking Age:
The Vikings secondary was without Chris Cook (incarcerated) and Antoine Winfield (injury) and many thought this unit would struggle against the high powered passing Packers offense and they did not disappoint. In typical Vikings fashion they also racked up their share of penalties. Purple were penalized 9 times for 91 yards. All of that said, the Vikings did make it close at the end with a couple defensive stops and decent play from Ponder. In the end, the Packers passing game gave way to their serviceable running game to ice the game.
Of course the big news from the Vikings standpoint was Christian Ponder getting his first career start and for the most part he looked decent. I have spent much energy criticizing Bill Musgrave but I must admit that he called a good game and put Ponder in some good positions to make some plays. Ponder did throw two picks (to Charles Woodson), which was to be expected, we knew there would be some growing pains with the rookie play caller. For the most part, this is a good start to Ponder’s career and there is much to build off of.
Dan Wiederer, Star Tribune:
The moment felt so hopeful, the play unfolding better than Christian Ponder could have ever envisioned. On the Vikings’ first snap Sunday, there was the rookie quarterback, in play action, shuffling left into open space.
Up the sideline, receiver Michael Jenkins froze Green Bay cornerback Tramon Williams with a devastating out-and-up move. So here came this pass — a perfect spiral to a wide-open target — pumping adrenaline into a downtrodden fan base.
This one completion, netting 72 yards and setting up a 2-yard touchdown toss from Ponder to Visanthe Shiancoe, felt incredibly significant.
Suddenly, the worries that existed about giving Ponder his first NFL start against the defending Super Bowl champions were obliterated by a roar that rippled the Teflon roof covering Mall of America Field.
Just like that, the Vikings’ advertisements of Ponder as their confident leader of the future seemed valid.
Update: Tom Pelissero and Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN: