Quarterback Christian Ponder has the Minnesota Vikings in a position to beat the Green Bay Packers at halftime (17-14).
Up 17-13 at halftime, the Minnesota Vikings should feel good about their first half performance.
They are up on the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers (6-0) who haven’t had a game decided by less than 10 points since their Week 2 win (30-23) over the Carolina Panthers.
But everyone knows Minnesota’s history. The Vikings have let three first-half leads greater than 10 points slip away. And the talent level across the field today is greater than it was in any of those three second-half meltdowns.
Going into halftime here are three things about which Minnesota should feel good:
In the first half of his first NFL start, Ponder was 8-of-14 for 126 yards and a touchdown.
Christian Ponder hasn’t shown glimpses of being a rookie quarterback often today. In the first half of his first NFL start, he’s completed 57.1 percent of his passes (8-of-14) and thrown for one touchdown. He posted a 111 passer rating too.
His first pass went for 73 yards to wide receiver Michael Jenkins.
Ponder has shown poise under pressure – throwing the ball away rather than taking sacks – and has avoided the rush.
His passes have been crisp and on-target. He’s fit passes into tighter spaces than his predecessor, Donovan McNabb, did during the first six weeks of the season.
But he’s also displayed his rookie status. He’s thrown the ball across the field, a move that even a great quarterback like Brett Favre would tell Ponder will backfire at some point (think Favre’s pass to receiver Sidney Rice in the 2009 NFC Championship Game that was intercepted).
Overall, Minnesota should be pleased with Ponder’s performance in the first half.
Defensive end Jared Allen posted two first half sacks to boost his season total to 11.5.
Defensive end Jared Allen extended his NFL-leading sack total to 11.5 with two first-half sacks.
Green Bay’s offensive line has improved greatly from the 2009 meeting when he posted 4.5 sacks in Minnesota’s 30-23 win. Fellow defensive end Brian Robison has also brushed past his offensive lineman to put quarterback Aaron Rodgers on edge.
It’ll be interesting to watch how Rodgers will do if the pass rush quiets down – he’s 17-of-20 for 197 yards and a touchdown in the first half.
Quarterback Christian Ponder and running back Adrian Peterson created a balanced offense in the first half.
With Donovan McNabb under center, opponents knew what they were in for: a large dose of running back Adrian Peterson. Today, Minnesota has thrown the ball 15 times for 126 yards and rushed it 14 times for 87 yards, and have been successful doing both.
Minnesota has shown the ability to drive the ball with Ponder throwing short passes and the ability to pick up first downs grinding it out with Peterson.
If Minnesota continues its good mix of run and pass plays, then they will have a chance in this one, as long as the secondary doesn’t let Green Bay have whatever it wants.