Ponder dips to 0-5 as a starter this season, but QB change unlikely
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Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder had one of his best starts of the season, but failed to put up enough points as his defense allowed another last-minute touchdown in the 27-23 loss at the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
Despite his scoring drives of 77-, 79- and 87-yards, Ponder falls to 0-5 as a starter this season; with backup quarterback Matt Cassel still the only Vikings' passer to notch a win so far.
Coach Leslie Frazier said he doesn't foresee a change at quarterback in a quick turnaround as the Vikings host the Washington Redskins on Thursday Night Football on Nov. 7, per ESPN.com reporter Ben Goessling.
Frazier: As of right now don't see why we'd make a change at QB for Thursday.— Ben Goessling (@GoesslingESPN) November 3, 2013
Quarterback Josh Freeman was inactive at Dallas for the third time in four games since he signed on Oct. 7. Ponder and Freeman are the only two candidates for the starting job, per Frazier.
Many are worked up over the Vikings' $2 million commitment to Freeman this season, but Cassel tops all quarterbacks with a $3.7 million cap this season. The Vikings can exercise an option to add a fifth year to Ponder's rookie contract, which expires after 2014, but that seems unlikely now.
Ponder ultimately lost his starting job after the defense allowed last-minute touchdowns in back-to-back losses in September, but it appears Frazier will start him for the sixth time this season on Thursday.
Ponder's 82.7 passer rating is his second-best this season, but the third-year quarterback has thrown at least one interception in four of his five starts. With running back Adrian Peterson getting his usual dose of carries, Ponder tied his season high in passing yards with 236 and accounted for two touchdowns (run, pass).
The Vikings failed to convert on their final five third-down attempts, but took the 23-20 lead on Peterson's 11-yard touchdown run on 4th-and-1 and about six minutes left.
Cornerback A.J. Jefferson grabbed the Vikings' only takeaway on the next drive, but Frazier opted to punt on 4th-and-5 from the Cowboys' 36-yard line. Kicker Blair Walsh missed an extra point earlier in the game and Frazier reportedly said Walsh's plant-leg hamstring pull played a part in declining the 53-yard field goal attempt.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo orchestrated a no-huddle offense that drove 90 yards downfield in nine plays and 2:09 of clock. Receiver Dwayne Harris' seven-yard touchdown reception sealed the victory with 35 seconds left.
Ponder is 12-19 in 31 games as a starter.