Christian Ponder earns tie, another start vs. Chicago Bears next week
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GREEN BAY, Wis. - Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder couldn't pull out a score on the final three fourth-quarter drives to seal the win.
But the 23-7 advantage he helped set up for the defense in the final period is enough to earn the starting job for at least another week, per coach Leslie Frazier.
"I don't know any reason why [Ponder] wouldn't [start]," Frazier said. "I don't know if that'd be helping our football team [by making a change]."
After a 12-play, 85-yard drive finished with a Blair Walsh field goal for the 23-7 lead in the fourth quarter, Ponder attempted just four passes on the next three drives as the offense churned out 34 yards and no points in the final 11:42 of regulation.
In his eighth start of the season, Ponder had his second turnover-free outing and notched a 103.9 passer rating despite getting sacked six times on 36 dropbacks.
"[Ponder] did a good job stepping up in the pocket when he needed to. Staying on his reads, not just panicking in the pocket," Frazier said. "He was much more in control, which is what we need for our offense to be successful. He did a very good job under center and in the gun when we rolled him out in passing situations. Without looking the tape, he did everything we want him to do at the quarterback position."
Ponder found nine different receivers and averaged 7.8 yards-per-attempt, the third-highest this season. He had one would-be interception dropped by Packers cornerback Davon House early in the game, but otherwise kept the ball away from Packers' defenders.
Green Bay had just two pass deflections (House) to the Vikings' nine on defense. Ponder was particularly serviceable on Sunday due to the Vikings' season-high 232 rushing yards.
Running back Toby Gerhart stepped in relief of Adrian Peterson and tallied 58 and 33 rushing yards on scoring drives in the fourth quarter and overtime, respectively. Peterson finished two carries shy of his career high (34) as he ran for 146 yards with a sore groin.
He fell victim to a couple dropped passes, one by receiver Greg Jennings on third down in overtime. But Ponder is now 1-6-1 as a starter on the season and will get his ninth start on Sunday.
"Everybody wants to be out there, but I'm happy I get another chance," Ponder said. "I've got to keep getting better so we can get a win."
Even though the Packers had two deflections, the second prevented a Vikings' win.
A would-be, game-winning touchdown fell in the arms of rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson on a 3rd-and-14 attempt from the 17-yard line in overtime. Open in the center of the endzone, Patterson bobbled the pass and fell out of bounds before gaining control.
House apparently tipped the pass, which put the ball just off-target enough for Patterson to not gain possession in bounds. Blair Walsh booted a 35-yard field goal on the following down for the 26-26 tie and final.
"Boy, that was close," Frazier said.