Monday night will mark Christian Ponder’s first appearance at that hallowed giant urinal known as Lambeau Field. If you think the quarterback is geeked for the experience…well, you’re right. But as pumped as Ponder is to journey for the first time into the very heart of Cheesehead Land, he also knows that if he wants to win he has to keep his cool and not let the setting or opponent overwhelm him.
“Undefeated team, at their house, in Lambeau, historic Lambeau on Monday night,” Ponder said at his Thursday presser. “There’s a lot of things to get excited about. But you’ve got to treat it as any other game.
“It’ll be fine. The crowd will be into it. It’ll be an electrifying atmosphere. But the crowd’s not playing. They’re not playing on the field, and once the game gets underway, you kind of zone that stuff out.”
Ponder played well his first time around against the Packers in the Metrodome, throwing for two touchdowns in leading the Vikings to a better-than-expected showing against the defending champs. But if Ponder wants to seal the deal against Green Bay this time he needs to play even better, which will mean not throwing two picks to Charles Woodson the way he did a few weeks ago.
My concern isn’t Ponder’s mental approach vs. the Packers, cause I think he can handle the hostile crowd and the pressure just fine. What I’m worried about is the guy playing quarterback for the other team and specifically what he’s going to do to the Vikings defense. Ponder may very well have a good game Monday night, and it still might not be anywhere near enough to match Aaron Rodgers and that torrid Packers offense.
As much as it pains Viking fans to admit, Aaron Rodgers is the real deal. He is not only a rising young star now, he is an MVP candidate and at this point almost indisputably the best quarterback in the NFL. Rodgers toyed with the Vikings in the last meeting, and despite doing very little for a long stretch of the second half, still ended up with ridiculous stats. If the Vikes don’t up their game defensively, Rodgers will almost certainly torch them again, and then it won’t matter what Christian Ponder or Adrian Peterson do, because the Vikings will still get their butts handed to them on a platter made of Wisconsin cheddar.