Ponder likely to start again on short week

Christian Ponder (Wesley Hitt/Getty)

Christian Ponder is expected to get another chance Thursday night, despite a 0-5 record as a starter.

Christian Ponder can't put the Vikings on a three-game winning streak, but it appears he will have a three-game starting streak again.

Ponder is expected to start the Vikings' game Thursday night against the Washington Redskins on a short week, head coach Leslie Frazier indicated after Minnesota's 27-23 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

"As we speak, I don't see why we would make a change," Frazier said. "Sometimes after the ballgame you can make emotional decisions, but I don't see nothing that would tell me he shouldn't start against the Redskins."

Ponder had an efficient first half in Dallas, completing 14 of 21 passes for 117 yards. He didn't have any touchdown passes but avoided throwing any interceptions or fumbling the ball in the first 30 minutes. He also ran 6 yards for the team's only touchdown of the first half.

After that, it was his turnovers that hurt the Vikings.

On their first drive of the third quarter, Ponder took the snap at the Vikings' own 5-yard line following a muffed kickoff return. He dropped into the end zone and was hit by Cowboys DE George Selvie, who beat replacement right tackle J'Marcus Webb.

Ponder fumbled, Dallas DT Nick Hayden recovered, and the Cowboys went from a 10-6 halftime deficit to a 20-10 lead with two touchdowns in a 10-second span.

"When you look back, you can say risky (call) because of the results, but we felt like we had something there because of what they were doing," Frazier said. "To get from the shadow or our end zone we thought this play would work and it didn't. It cost us. A sack-fumble. We wanted to get a big play and it just didn't work out."

Said Ponder: "It sucks. It does suck. But we're going to keep moving forward. We're going to keep fixing things that we can fix and get better as an offense and go win some ballgames."

For the game, Ponder completed 25 of 37 passes for 236 yards, one touchdown and one interception for an 82.7 rating. But fumbles don't count in passer rating. Ponder had two of them, recovering his second one on the Vikings' final drive.

He also overthrew Greg Jennings on a first-down throw following A.J. Jefferson's fourth-quarter interception. Had Jennings and Ponder been able to complete the connection, they Vikings would have been in scoring position (if Jennings didn't score a touchdown there).

"I thought we had a good play called. We had a man beater with Greg on a deep route, a deep crossing route. It was a great play," Ponder said. "For us, we were just short of hitting it. If he catches that, he either scores or we're down on the goal line getting points. It's unfortunate that we weren't able to convert on it."

Ponder said he would have to review the play on film, but admitted it appeared he overthrew Jennings.

Instead of at least extending the drive, the Vikings went three-and-out and punted to the Cowboys, who went on their game-winning, 90-yard touchdown drive.

Ponder said he will benefit from playing in three consecutive games. He started the first three of the season and has started the last two. He is 0-5 as a starter, with Matt Cassel going 1-1 and Josh Freeman going 0-1.

"It's what I need. I need to be out there playing," Ponder said. "I'm happy that I'm out here playing, but losing sucks. It's not a fun part of the game. Myself and the leaders on this team have got to make sure that we get this turned around and go out there and win.

"We have a short week, so guys have to be focused and move onto the next game because the game is going to be here in a few days."


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.

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