Christian Ponder’s best game of the season? That’s a good question. You could pick the San Francisco game. There’s also last week’s game against the Texans. He did pretty well against Tennessee and Detroit too. Lots of solid-but-not-great performances to choose from. Solid-but-not-great being the best we can expect from Ponder at this stage in his career.
Now on the other side of the quality scale, I don’t think there’s any contest. Ponder’s worst game of the season? That debacle in Green Bay. Hands down, that was the lowest point for the quarterback. The Vikings were up, and ready to take control of the game, when he threw that horrible end zone interception. Ponder’s performance in that game inspired more negativity – and flat-out hatred – than anything else he’s done. Viking fans were ready to run him out of town on a rail after that disaster.
But that’s the great thing about the NFL. Redemption is often only a few weeks away. Here were are just a little down the road from that soul-crushing low, and Ponder has a chance to lead the team to a euphoric new high. By beating the Packers at home to clinch a playoff berth.
How bad do you think Ponder wants to beat the Packers? How great would it feel to lead the team to victory in front of the fans who not long ago were mercilessly booing him? How much does Ponder want to prove the haters wrong?
This would be a sweet, sweet victory if Ponder can pull it off. All the bad stuff would just disappear in a puff of smoke. The maligned no-talent would be a playoff quarterback.
For his sake, I hope he gets it done. I hope he throws a game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter to beat Aaron Rodgers. I hope this is finally the game where Ponder rises above his game manager role and actually leads the team to victory. I mean that sincerely. You may think I’m a Ponder hater but I’m not. I’m a Ponder skeptic. There’s nothing this skeptic would love more than to be forced to eat my words.
I just have to say, I’m not optimistic about this game from a Ponder point-of-view. I’m worried about that Packer pass rush with Clay Matthews back in the picture. I’m worried about Adrian Peterson being banged up. I’m concerned that Ponder will have to do more than usual in this game, and won’t be able to answer the bell.
Redemption isn’t going to come unless Ponder plays much better than he did the first time around in Green Bay. And I still have my doubts. Even in his “good” game against Houston, he came dangerously close to giving the whole thing away a couple of times. He must concentrate on ball security. He must not get carried away with trying to be the hero. He must eat the ball when necessary. He must make decisive reads and if it’s not there, be ready to tuck it and run.
I want to believe he can do it, but I’m still a doubter. But if Ponder can pull this off, he’ll make me a little bit of a believer. He’s been better in his last couple “prove it” games, but this is the biggest “prove it” game of them all. We’ll see if he’s up to it.
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