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The Sports Xchange, Published November 27 2013

Ponder becomes fixture at quarterback for Vikings

MINNEAPOLIS – The Minnesota Vikings might be in danger of slipping back into that collective state of mind where they think Christian Ponder could become a long-term solution at quarterback, after all.

Something that wasn’t thought possible when Ponder was benched earlier this season or again in the fourth quarter at Seattle the week before has become a possibility yet again after the Vikings tied the Packers 26-26 at Lambeau Field on Sunday. And that’s hard to fathom considering it was only last month that the franchise outbid other teams to sign former Buccaneers first-round draft pick Josh Freeman and then threw him into the Giants game after just four practices with the first team.

At that point, it seemed certain that Ponder had played his final snap with the Vikings. But Freeman suffered a concussion during a pitiful performance against the Giants. Rather than turn back to Matt Cassel, who had gone 1-1 since replacing Ponder, coach Leslie Frazier went back to Ponder.

Ponder responded with a so-so performance, but was turnover-free in a loss to the Packers at home. That earned him a start at Dallas, where he had another so-so game against an awful Cowboys pass defense before being able to connect with an open Greg Jennings on a play that would have run out the clock and not set the stage for the Cowboys’ last-minute game-winning drive.

That earned Ponder another start at home against Washington. He played well and earned toughness points when he left the game with a separated left shoulder on a hit at the goal line. With 10 days between that Thursday nighter and the Seahawks game, Ponder was able to start again.

He played well in the Seahawks game, but was so horrendous in the fourth quarter that he had to be pulled. He threw two atrocious interceptions, including a pick-six that blew open what was a competitive game at one point.

The assumption was – again – that Ponder had played his last snap in Minnesota. Freeman almost certainly was going to get his six-game audition to see if he can be the QB of the future, right?

Not exactly. Ponder was named the surprise starter in part because he had played well against the Packers a few weeks earlier. It’s also obvious that Frazier – who understandably is trying to win games and save his job, not audition quarterbacks for his successor – has lost confidence in Freeman since the Giants debacle.

“(Ponder) did a great job getting the ball to the right people,” Frazier said. “Really composed. Ran the offense. Was under control in every situation. Did a good job of stepping up in the pocket when he needed to, staying on his reads and not just panicking in the pocket. So overall, without looking at the tape, it seems like he did everything we wanted him to do at the quarterback position.”