Broncos vs. Vikings: 3 Keys for Minnesota in the Second Half

Matt KingFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 4: Christian Ponder #7 of the Minnesota Vikings reacts to throwing an interception for a Denver Broncos touchdown in the first quarter on December 4, 2011 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings are playing for pride today, but they're also trying to play spoilers for Tim Tebow's playoff hopes with the Denver Broncos.

The Vikes finally just got rid of Donovan McNabb this week, so even though he hasn't seen the field in a while, they seem to be playing with a renewed energy after shedding their problem child.

The first half was a tale of defense for both teams, with Minnesota taking a late 12-7 lead at the turn. But this game is far from over. Here are three keys to making sure the Vikings come away with the W.


Quick Strikes from Ponder

When Christian Ponder drops back in the pocket with a three- or five-step drop and makes a quick decision, he's had success in the passing game. Longer drops where he hesitates are when the Vikings are getting in trouble.

If Ponder makes quick reads and the offensive line can keep him safe around the edges, Minnesota can get a pretty potent 1-2 punch going with the running game.


Get Penetration on Defense

So far in the first half, Minnesota is having its way with the Broncos offense, and it's because the Vikes are getting penetration right off the line. That's what resulted in the safety and the fumble in the first quarter.

The less time they give Tebow to make decisions in the backfield, the less success Denver is going to have with that option.


Run the Ball More

Toby Gerhart and Co. are actually having some good success running the ball in the injured Adrian Peterson's absence. It was when they started having Ponder try to do too much that they got in trouble with the fumble and the pick-six.

Aside from those two mistakes, Ponder's having a pretty good game, but Minny still needs to pick up its run game to balance things out. Denver is built to stop the pass, so I don't expect Ponder to keep having this much success if the Vikings don't start mixing in the run more.