Note: The previous installments of post-game analysis from Sundays can be found here and here.
As I read stories this spring and summer about Christian Ponder's development and maturation and then watched him during the preseason, what I wanted to see just as much as him shredding secondaries and throwing multiple touchdown passes was how he bounced back from a tough series or a tough half.
Ponder's admitted he was hard on himself as a rookie and didn't handle adversity well when it came his way. Now handling adversity is part of the job description of an NFL quarterback, so this is a concern. If Ponder is going to give us indication that he can be THE MAN we have to see him shake off poor play and rise above it.
Well, the start of game one of the 2012 season was pretty poor for Ponder. The Vikings first four possessions included a six-play drive, a four-play drive and two three-and-outs. Ponder completed three of seven passes for 32 yards, was almost picked off (twice) and the Vikings didn't score any points. The Metrodome crowd was booing, probably pining for Joe Webb.
But what Ponder did after that was encouraging - even a little impressive. He completed 17 of his last 20 passes. And he did what we've seen guys like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning do for eons - lead their team to a score late in the game facing defeat and helping pull off a win. Last year, I don't think there is any way Ponder could have done that.
It's only one game, and it was one game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Yes, Ponder has game-tying and game-winning drives under his belt now, but we're looking for repeatability. Still, I feel better about Ponder and his ability to solve a longstanding Vikings problem than I did four days ago. How about you?