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49ers vs. Vikings: Ponder, Rudolph Come Up Big as Vikings Stun San Francisco

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 23: Christian Ponder #7 of the Minnesota Vikings runs the ball during the second quarter of the game against the San Francisco 49ers on September 23, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistDecember 17, 2016

Not even the refs could stop the biggest upset of the young NFL season.

San Francisco got an extra timeout from a refereeing crew that was clearly intimidated by 49er coach Jim Harbaugh, and it still wasn't enough to overcome a team which came into this game huge underdogs.

The defense played very well most of the game, keeping Alex Smith and the Niners offense out of sorts and off their game plan all day.

The real story here was a tremendous performance by Christian Ponder, who hooked up with tight end Kyle Rudolph twice for touchdowns.

It's not the stats that were impressive for Ponder (because they weren't); it was the poise he showed under pressure and the command he had of the offense.

The Niners continually got into Ponder's face with their pass rush, but he was able to escape pressure and extend the play with his feet and find Percy Harvin or Rudolph quite often.

Adrian Peterson struggled against a fierce San Francisco run defense. However, Minnesota stuck to the script and kept running him, wearing the defense down and keeping it from keying on Ponder and the passing offense.

This isn't to say that Ponder was perfect—just sometimes very good and at other times very lucky, such as his second touchdown to Rudolph.

Rudolph made a ridiculous one-armed catch in the end zone but was well-covered, and Ponder was lucky he wasn't picked. It's especially bad when you consider Adrian Peterson was wide-open about five yards to Rudolph's right.

However, when things are falling your way, they really fall your way, and that's one that fell for the Vikings.

This was a huge win for the Vikings and Ponder, one you can build on for the rest of the season.

They've done the unthinkable: beat the assumed best team in the NFL.

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Follow me on Twitter at @andrew_garda.

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