It actually looked like a competitive game for most of the first half, as the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings traded scores, but a 58-yard return by Percy Harvin helped put the Seahawks in the driver’s seat just before halftime with a 24-13 score, and the Vikings had no answers after that. There are a lot of former Vikings on the Seahawks roster, starting with their head coach and offensive co-ordinator, both of whom were coaches for Minnesota earlier in their careers. Pete Carroll served under both Bud Grant and Jerry Burns as an assistant, while Darrell Bevell was the offensive co-ordinator for Brad Childress. Former Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice was sidelined with an injury (the story of Rice’s NFL career), but fellow alumni Percy Harvin put on a very good performance against his former team, and former Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson came in to finish the fourth quarter after the game was out of reach. On the other side of the field, former Seahawk John Carlson was one of the few Vikings to have a good game against his former team.
ESPN‘s Ben Goessling explains why many of us are expecting Josh Freeman to get his second start as a Viking next week against the Green Bay Packers:
Stock watch: Falling: Ponder. The quarterback’s second half was among the ugliest he’s had in 2 1/2 professional seasons; he hit just four of nine passes for 15 yards and threw two interceptions. He had another pass that could have been intercepted for a touchdown. Ponder hit seven of seven throws in the second quarter, and finished the first half 9-of-13 for 114 yards and a touchdown, though he did fumble deep in Vikings territory. But as he’s done so many times in Minnesota, he proved unable to put two consistent halves together, and was pulled for Matt Cassel with just more than 12 minutes left in the game. Coach Leslie Frazier could take most of the week, once again, to decide on a starting quarterback, but if the Vikings aren’t going to use Freeman now, it’s worth asking if they ever will.
Dan Zinski of The Viking Age chimes in on the Ponder situation:
Seattle’s defense set the tone in the second half, picking off Christian Ponder twice, and returning one of those picks for a TD. Ponder played reasonably well in the first half, but whatever tweaks the Seahawks introduced in the third quarter utterly bewildered the Vikings QB. His interceptions were not rushed throws or bad footwork throws or anything that could be chalked up to poor pass protection or receivers running bad routes or any of the rest of it. No excuses for Ponder: he made two of the worst throws you will ever see from a third-year quarterback.
Leslie Frazier decided after the pick-six that he had seen enough and yanked Ponder. But by that point it was too late for backup Matt Cassel to get anything going anyway. Seattle didn’t even need much from their offense in the second half. Russell Wilson did all the damage he needed to in the first half. With Ponder throwing the ball around like a fool, Seattle’s D was able to put the game away without any difficulty.
John Holler makes the same point about quarterbacking for Viking Update:
Christian Ponder’s inconsistency was encapsulated against the Seahawks: promising first half, brutal second half. By now, the Vikings should have seen enough to know what they have in Ponder and make a change to evaluate the next possibility.
What Vikings fans saw Sunday from quarterback Christian Ponder is nothing unusual. His three-year NFL career has been defined more by his failures than his achievements and Sunday was no exception. The difference this time is that it just might be his last disappointing game as the Vikings’ starting quarterback.
Head coach Leslie Frazier said team officials will talk about a quarterback change Monday, but Ponder continued with some of the trends that have made him a human piñata among Vikings fans. He completed 13 of 22 passes to his offensive teammates and two passes to Seattle defenders, one that was brought back for a touchdown. On his first dropback of the game, he was hit from behind and fumbled, leading to the game’s first three points. His three turnovers accounted for 17 Seattle points and turned a close game into a blowout.
This hasn’t been anything unusual for Ponder this season. He has at least one interception in seven of the eight games he has played, and almost invariably his turnovers directly lead to points.
What made Sunday’s game so painful for Ponder apologists is that, aside from the blindside fumble in the first quarter, he was having a decent game. At halftime, he had completed nine of 13 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown – giving him a passer rating of 122.0.
I liked Christian Ponder when the Vikings drafted him, and I wanted him to get the opportunity to show what he could do, but after two-and-a-half seasons, I think we now know what Ponder can do. He may still be able to improve as a passer, but I think it’ll be for another team. The Vikings will almost certainly be drafting a quarterback in the first round of the 2014 draft, and if the team keeps Ponder for the final season of his contract, he’ll just be holding the spot until the rookie is able to take over.