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NFL Minnesota Vikings

Christian Ponder Rises to the Occasion in Win Over Green Bay Packers

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

In a game that Christian Ponder knew would define him, the second-year quarterback stepped up big in the Minnesota Vikings last-second victory against the Green Bay Packers.

Ponder executed him game-manger role to a tee Sunday, and in the process got his team into the playoffs.

Now I think we can all agree that Adrian Peterson‘s greatness makes Ponder a better quarterback. Ponder has a luxury that not too many quarterbacks in the league have, a running back that makes defenses prepare for the run first. This creates favorable one-on-one matchups in the passing game, and Ponder does his best to take advantage of them.

All season long it’s been the same approach for Ponder, don’t try to do too much. I think that’s one area where he doesn’t get enough credit. For the most part, he makes good decisions and limits negative plays. With his speed and quickness, Ponder is able to get out of spots that few quarterbacks can.

Ponder’s play in Sunday’s game against the Packers went exactly to plan. He only made a few bad decisions, and luckily was not burned on any of them. Ponder did the number one thing he has to do – he played a clean game. One turnover on Sunday would have been one too many.

So after an entire game of runs and short throws, it was finally time for the Vikings to take a shot down the field. It came with 12 minutes to go in the fourth quarter when Ponder threw a 65-yard bomb to Jarius Wright. The rookie wide receiver hauled it in, and set up another scoring opportunity.

After the Vikings gained new life on an illegal hands to the face penalty, Ponder found Michael Jenkins in the end zone on what was his best throw of the day. Ponder somehow snuck the ball into a tiny window in a place where only his receiver could get it. There was no room for error on the throw whatsoever.

In the final minutes, the ball was again in the hands of Ponder as the Vikings and Packers were tied at 34. Ponder only connected on one throw during the final drive, but it was good for 25 yards on third down. The throw was right on the money, and it set up a chance for Peterson to seal the game.

The game would indeed be sealed by Peterson as he ran for another 35 yards to set up Blair Walsh‘s game-winning kick from 29 yards.

I believe that you have to give credit where credit is due, and Christian Ponder deserves recognition for his performance. In the biggest game of the year, he had played one of his best games: 16/28 for 234 and three touchdowns. Sure, the numbers don’t jump off the page, but when you have the league’s best running back behind you, it will do.

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