Christian Ponder (Tom Dahlin/Viking Update)
Christian Ponder’s efficiency turned around when the Vikings went to a no-huddle offense. Plus, several former Vikings were drawing interest around the league.
Christian Ponder’s slow start Sunday was quickly turned around with a change in attitude and alteration to the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive approach.
The Vikings were clearly trying to establish their running game early with Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart and Percy Harvin running the ball five of the first six plays, but the offense stalled repeatedly. In the first three drives of their 26-23 overtime win, the Vikings only mustered one first down – a 15-yard pass to Kyle Rudolph on the first play of the game – and their first four drives all ended with punts.
And then it quickly turned around.
Ponder hit Harvin on three consecutive short passes that ended up gaining a combined 32 yards and suddenly the plodding pace and success rate of the offense turned around.
“It’s just an attitude, I think, mentally just telling myself I’ve got to go out and play aggressively and play almost mad. Just go out there and play with that sense of urgency,” Ponder said.
“Just play with a relentlessness. After those first couple of drives, I was mad I missed a couple throws. I just said, ‘I’m going to go out here and throw the ball and make plays.’ It was almost like playing mad.”
Down 9-0, the Vikings got the ball back with 2:28 to play in the first half when Ponder found a rhythm on the way to the highest passer rating of his career. After starting out 3-for-6, Ponder connected on all four of his passes on the way to the Vikings’ first touchdown as they went 59 yards in one minute, 47 seconds.
“With our no-huddle, it can be a very fast-paced offense but also we can slow it down and make sure we try to get in the right play,” Ponder said. “That’s something we’re still trying to implement in this offense.”
On Monday, Ponder said he needed to change his approach.
“I think I changed my whole mindset. I'm just going to go out and throw the ball and not be hesitant, kind of create that sense of urgency where we need to score, otherwise we're not going to win this game,” he said.
After his early struggles, Ponder was getting booed, something he said he deserved, but it didn’t take him long to turn it around.
He finished the game 20-for-27 or 270 yards and a 105.5 rating.
FORMER VIKINGS GETTING TRYOUTS
Several former Vikings got tryouts around the league earlier this week, according to Scout.com:
Former Vikings safety Tyrell Johnson (released by Miami) was one of eight players the Lions tried out.
Former Vikings Chris Carr and Jeff Charleston were among eight players the Patriots tried out.
Former Vikings and Gophers LB Nate Triplett had a tryout with the Saints.
The Texans worked out former Vikings DT Remi Ayodele.
The Redskins worked out former Vikings long snapper Matt Katula before signing Justin Snow. Katula filled in for Cullen Loeffler last year after Loeffler injured his back.
The Vikings had all three of the players that missed time last week with ankle injuries – WR Jarius Wright, S Andrew Sendejo and LB Marvin Mitchell – all back practicing Wednesday. They were all limited. Frazier said he would have to see how they progressed during the week before deciding on their availability Sunday at Indianpolis.
In addition to them, CB Chris Cook (biceps), C John Sullivan (ankle), and TE Rhett Ellison (ankle) were also limited.
RB Adrian Peterson (knee) and CB Josh Robison (hip) were full participants.
For the Colts, LB Pat Angerer (foot), LB Dwight Freeney (ankle) and G Joe Reitz (knee) didn't practice. T Winston Justice (head) was limited.
Vikings rookie Blair Walsh was named the NFC’s Special Teams Player of the Week after going 4-for-4 on field goals, including a 55-yarder to send it to overtime and hitting the game-winner in overtime. Walsh connected on field goals of 20, 42, 55 and 38 yards. The 55-yarder is tied for the second-longest in Vikings history.
Walsh is the first rookie kicker in Vikings history to win the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week award. Ryan Longwell is the last Vikings kicker to win the award, in 2008, and he won it twice. Other Vikings kickers to win the award are: Fuad Reveiz (twice), Gary Anderson (four times) and Eddie Murray.
The Saints signed former Vikings and Dolphins receiver Greg Camarillo.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.