Ponder's sixth loss in seven starts has Vikings 'talking' QB again
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Christian Ponder may have played his way out of the Minnesota Vikings starting quarterback role for good in 2013 in the 41-20 loss at the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
Ponder completed 4-of-9 passes for 15 yards and two interceptions in the second half before being pulled in favor of Matt Cassel after Ponder's second interception went for a 29-yard touchdown to Walter Thurmond in the fourth quarter.
Thurmond's touchdown was the third in a string of four second-half scores for the Seahawks as they scored 24 unanswered points to take a 41-13 lead.
A back-breaking touchdown with 16 seconds left before halftime put the Vikings in an 11-point hole heading into intermission after they were ready to accept a 17-13 deficit at one of the tougher venues in the NFL.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson completed three passes for 41 yards after retaining possession with 48 seconds left in the first half. Wilson hit receiver Doug Baldwin for a 19-yard touchdown and the 24-13 lead just before halftime.
The defense didn't do Ponder any favors, allowing 24 points in just over 11 minutes in time of possession in the first half. Ponder was also sacked three times in the first two drives as he played through a recently dislocated shoulder in his non-throwing arm.
One sack led to a fumble in which the Seahawks turned into their first field goal of the game. Ponder had three turnovers in the game, which puts him with 13 on the season in just seven outings. Ten NFL teams had 12 or fewer turnovers heading into Week 11 (nine to 10 games played).
But the Vikings went three-and-out on their first attempt in the second half before Ponder commanded a nine-play, 36-yard drive in which he attempted just three passes for one three-yard catch.
The next four passes contained what could be two of the worst of Ponder's 34 career interceptions in 33 starts. Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner dropped an interception on 3rd-and-14 on the previous drive, but grabbed the one Ponder tossed him just minutes later on a checkdown attempt to running back Adrian Peterson.
After Lynch's third touchdown of the game, Ponder threw a pick-six to Seahawks cornerback Walter Thurmond that ended his day. Matt Cassel stepped in, throwing an interception of his own as he completed five passes for 78 yards and a touchdown in garbage time.
In a larger scope than the quarterback situation, the Vikings are now 2-8 for the second time in three seasons under coach Leslie Frazier. Ponder may have opened his last game of 2013 after falling to 1-6 as a starter in his third season since he was drafted 12th overall in 2011.
After making the playoffs on the back of Peterson's MVP season in 2012, Frazier's squad has reverted to the same track as Ponder's rookie season, when they finished 3-13.
Frazier fired up the quarterback carousel again when he pulled Ponder, which made it only appropriate that he leave his options open this week heading into Lambeau Field.
Stop me if you've heard this before: Frazier said #Vikings will talk about QB situation this week and make a decision for Green Bay.— Ben Goessling (@GoesslingESPN) November 18, 2013
Quarterback Josh Freeman hasn't played since his first and only start on Oct. 21, in which he posted 33 incompletions on a game plan that asked him to throw 53 times. He's had five weeks of practice in since then, which is more than the number of weeks he's held down a starting role this season (4).
Cassel started two games and holds down a 1-1 record this season, but has been ruled out as a starting candidate in the past by Frazier.
The Vikings started three quarterbacks in the first six games of the season and it seems that trend was only destined to resurface.