Christian Ponder just can’t win for losing. Against the Redskins Thursday night the embattled QB finally put together a legit statement game, showing some of the grit, determination, leadership and playmaking the Vikings have been looking for. And then he promptly dislocated his shoulder, meaning he would not be on the field to savor the victory he fought his butt off to secure.
Ponder suffered the injury on what can only be described as an insane death-dive for the end zone, a scramble that ended with Ponder heaving himself through the air toward the pylon with DeAngelo Hall coming to sideswipe him. The initial call was touchdown but the replay showed that Hall’s blow to Ponder’s shoulder actually dislodged the ball, which trickled out of bounds at the one foot line.
Ponder rose from the ground clutching his arm, obviously injured. Matt Cassel came in to hand the ball off to Adrian Peterson for the go-ahead touchdown while Ponder was taken to the locker room for treatment. Ponder’s dislocated shoulder had to be popped back in and he was not able to return. He watched his team seal the victory from the sidelines.
Surely Ponder was happy with the team’s victory, a win he fought hard and sacrificed his body to secure. It must have been doubly-satisfying coming in front of home fans who just a short time earlier rained boos down upon him after an interception.
Does this performance, maybe the best all-around performance of Ponder’s career, mean the QB has finally turned the corner in his development? Or was Ponder’s success as much a function of Washington’s inept defense as anything? It’s easy to dismiss what Ponder did by saying Washington is just terrible on D, but Ponder still had to make the throws. His accuracy has been off even against bad defenses. Thursday night Ponder was on more than he was off.
And he didn’t just game-manage, he made plays. He looked better in this game throwing on the run than I’ve ever seen him. He seemed more decisive than normal. For the second straight game, Ponder looked fairly confident. He still has the same physical limitations as always but in this game he showed that he can play above them.
He also showed that he is too reckless when he breaks the pocket and runs. Bill Musgrave may think that diving head first is a good way for the QB to protect himself but in this instance at least it was a bad idea. Ponder may have been a little too determined to prove himself in this particular case. It’s hard to rip a guy for laying it all out there, but sometimes you have to be smart too.
Maybe this guy is just snakebit. He finally plays well and leads his team to a win, and now his status is once again up in the air. The good news: Ponder has 10 days for the shoulder to recover. And it’s his non-throwing arm so that’s a blessing too.
Ponder will surely want to be on the field ten days from now against Seattle, a team that beat his pants off last season. He’s got a chip on his shoulder now and that could be a good thing. The main thing now though is just being able to suit up. Yeah, Christian Ponder is once again a question mark. So what else is new?