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Updated: October 16th, 2011 9:52pm
Donovan McNabb expects to keep job: 'I don't see it ending like this'

Donovan McNabb expects to keep job: 'I don't see it ending like this'

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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CHICAGO -- The Christian Ponder era has begun for the Minnesota Vikings.

The only question is whether it will continue with a start next weekend.

"We're going sit down on Monday and just talk about a lot of things and just decide on what direction we want to go," coach Leslie Frazier said.

Ponder made his NFL debut with 14 minutes, 43 seconds remaining in Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears, who led 39-10 and sacked starter Donovan McNabb five times.

"I don't see it ending like this, as you say," McNabb said. "But it's tough. You're one-and-five at this particular point. I felt like we did a lot of great things (Sunday). But I guess we'll sit down to talk, but I still expect to be in there next week."

Ponder was 9-of-17 passing for 99 yards (52.9%) and a 70.5 rating over two drives, both ending with fourth-down passes caught short of the first-down marker. But the rookie first-round picks's skills were on display as he repeatedly escaped pressure and made several rhythm throws into tight windows.

He scrambled for 8 yards and a first down on his second snap. His first throw was a swing pass to Adrian Peterson for no gain and his second a touch pass to Percy Harvin for 20.

"I thought he did a good job under the circumstances," Frazier said. "We'll go back and look at the tape and fully evaluate it. But it seems like he moved around pretty good."

Ponder was 5-of-10 passing for 58 yards on his first drive, which went 69 yards in 12 plays before a fourth-and-10 throw to Visanthe Shiancoe gained only 9, stalling the Vikings at the Chicago 12-yard line. The Vikings' next drive went 40 yards in eight plays before stalling at the Chicago 30.

"I was very grateful for the opportunity that Coach let me go in," Ponder said. "I thought I made some plays, thought I missed some plays, missed a couple throws. But I definitely had fun. It's always hard to have fun when you're losing that bad, but I was grateful and I definitely had fun."

Frazier said McNabb understood the decision -- "I don't know if he's all right with it," Frazier said, "but he understood" -- and stopped short of calling the move performance-based.

"Just where we were in the ballgame, where the score was," Frazier said. "Just wanted to get (Ponder) in there, let him take some snaps and get a chance to get a feel for the NFL tempo."

McNabb stood silently with his arms folded as Ponder took the field but talked to the rookie between series.

"I'm going to keep fighting to the end," McNabb said. "We had positive plays, moving the ball. But again, when a decision is made like that, when you're down 39 to 10 or whatever, you take guys out. (Adrian Peterson) came out.

"The kid's got to get some reps, and in that situation, he wanted to get him some work. Obviously, you want to keep fighting with your team. But knowing the situation, it was probably the best thing for him."

McNabb was complimentary of Ponder's performance but said multiple times he expects to start next week.

Does Ponder think he did enough to take the job away?

"I don't know," Ponder said. "Who knows? I know I missed a couple plays, made a couple plays. But that's not my call. That's always Coach's call, and Donovan didn't have a bad game this game either. But who knows? We'll see."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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