Maybe we all took Christian Ponder for granted in 2012.
Joe Webb proved an invaluable lesson on Saturday night: The NFL is a quarterback-driven league, and it doesn't matter if you have the best running back in the world; without one, you won't win in the playoffs.
Webb started the game because Ponder couldn't overcome an elbow injury he suffered in Week 17, and the Minnesota Vikings offense was a hopeless mess without Ponder.
As much as many (myself included) have ripped Ponder for his flaws, his value to the Vikings was made apparent in the worst way against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Saturday night.
Webb was simply atrocious.
He finished the game having completed just 11 of 30 passes for 180 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
And as bad as those numbers look on paper, his performance was far worse. If not for a garbage-time 50-yard touchdown to Michael Jenkins late in the fourth quarter and a couple of completions on the final drive of the game, Webb's stat line would have been far more indicative of his poor play.
Without a doubt, the play that encapsulated Webb's wild-card debacle was his failed Hail Mary attempt to end the first half.
Tim Tebow has made some horrific throws in his day, but even he hasn't sunk this low.
Peterson didn't come close to breaking the 200-yard barrier like he did the first two times these two teams met up this season, but he wasn't bad. He finished the contest with 99 yards on 22 carries, which isn't bad, by any measure.
But without any semblance of a passing attack, the Packers were able to stack the box and focus solely on stopping A.D.
The NFL is a quarterback's league.
Without one, you can't win—especially in the playoffs.
Even with a healthy Ponder, the Vikings weren't likely to beat the Packers—let alone go to New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII.
Ponder has trouble throwing the ball downfield with accuracy, and the only reason the Vikings had the season they did was because Peterson rushed for over 2,000 yards.
For the season, Ponder averaged just 6.08 yards per attempt—the No. 31-ranked quarterback in the NFL in this category—and threw just 18 touchdowns in 16 games. That's not going to get it done, even with A.D. putting on a remarkable show.
All six of them are among the top signal-callers in the NFL, and you can bet the team to win this year's tournament will feature a hot quarterback.
The Trent Dilfers and Brad Johnsons of the world are the rare exceptions to this tried and tested rule, no matter how much defensive-minded fanatics like to argue.
You need an elite quarterback to win a Super Bowl.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78.
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