Notebook: Pick-six was 'fluke play,' Vikings QB Christian Ponder says
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LANDOVER, Md. -- Christian Ponder made it four weeks into the NFL season without throwing an interception.
He now has four, including two on Sunday -- plus another costly turnover that was ruled a fumble in the Minnesota Vikings' 38-26 loss to the Washington Redskins.
"I turned the ball over three times with two interceptions," Ponder said. "That's never good."
The Redskins had just taken their first lead at 10-9 late in the second quarter when linebacker Perry Riley crashed into halfback Adrian Peterson on a blitz, knocking loose the ball from Ponder's hand as he tried to throw to Percy Harvin.
It floated into the hands of linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, who snatched the ball in midair and returned it to the Vikings' 6-yard line. Robert Griffin III threw a touchdown pass to fullback Darrel Young on the next play, completing a major momentum shift.
"I think he hit it in the right spot," Ponder said. "I was going through my throwing motion, about to throw to Percy and -- I don't know. I don't know how hard it got hit, but it just got knocked out."
The Redskins led 24-12 early in the fourth quarter when Ponder -- whose accuracy wavered more than usual -- tried to throw for Michael Jenkins in the right flat.
The ball went well over Jenkins' head and into the arms of Redskins safety Madieu Williams, who ran all the way across the field and dived at the pylon for a 24-yard touchdown.
"I tried to check it down and the ball just slipped out of my hand, just sailed," Ponder said. "Tried to throw it to Jenkins, who's 7 yards in front of me. It was a fluke play."
Ponder did bounce back from that mistake, capping consecutive touchdown drives with touchdown passes of 9 yards to Jenkins and 1 yard to Kyle Rudolph to cut the Redskins' lead to 31-26 with 3 minutes, 36 seconds to go.
Then Robert Griffin ran for a 76-yard touchdown and Ponder threw one more interception with 28 seconds to go and the Vikings in desperation mode. On third-and-goal from the Washington 3, Ponder heaved the ball for Harvin in traffic and DeAngelo Hall caught it to seal the decision.
"Disappointing, for sure," said Ponder, who finished 35-of-52 passing (67.3%) for 352 yards and an 83.2 rating. "You never want to have those situations, but you've just got to forget about it. I thought I did a good job of forgetting about it and moving on and kept playing."
Williams' second career touchdown couldn't have come at a better time -- or against a more fitting opponent.
The Vikings released him in July 2011 after three disappointing seasons. He spent last season with San Francisco before joining the Redskins in April.
"It was nothing personal," Williams said. "I was there for three years and I enjoyed my stay. I just wanted to come out and play well for the guys in this locker room and play well enough to give us a chance to win."
His previous touchdown came as a Cincinnati Bengals rookie in 2004.
Peterson ran for 79 yards on 17 carries (4.6 average), including a 32-yard burst on the Vikings' opening drive. But he criticized himself for not his play in the first half, saying he "left the offensive line out to dry."
Asked what he meant, Peterson said, "I missed a couple (holes). Should have been more aggressive. That's pretty much what it boils down to. But I can tell you that won't happen again."
Peterson said the sprained ankle that limited his practice time during the week and got "twisted up" on one play on Sunday wasn't a factor.
"No, it's all in the mind," Peterson said. "I was hesitant the first half. It was a lot of plays I wish I could have back."
Said coach Leslie Frazier, "I don't think (the ankle) slowed him down. He still ran as hard as he's ever run. He never complained about it. I don't think it really inhibited him at all."
Frazier said the Vikings had no injuries of note, though receiver Percy Harvin dropped out briefly on several occasions.
At one point, athletic trainers tended to Harvin's left knee, which was cut up and bleeding.
"He took a couple of hits there, but he finished and was fine when we looked at him a moment ago," Frazier said.
Playing his usual reserve role, Griffen was credited with one solo tackle and a quarterback hit.
"He came out and played with a heavy heart," Ponder said. "That's a heck of a teammate."
Veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield had an interception for the second consecutive game, picking off an ill-advised pass by Griffin in the first quarter.
The most Winfield has had in one season over his 14-year career is four, which he posted in 2005 and '06 with the Vikings.
"My receiver (Joshua Morgan) just ran across the field," Winfield said. "I seen Jamarca (Sanford) coming up to contain the quarterback. Either (Griffin) was going to get hit or throw the ball, so I tried to undercut a receiver. Just made a play."
• The Vikings rotated in Geoff Schwartz at guard for a couple of series. Frazier said the rotation was preplanned, as coaches wanted to get some game tape on Schwartz, who missed all of last season with a hip injury and was sidelined for the preseason by sports hernia surgery.