5. A FAMILIAR SONG -- As I'm witnessing ARodge's feasting on the Vikings' defense, I find myself harkening back to Oct. 3, 1998, West Lafayette, Ind. Same lethal combination: Surgical, magical, cerebral quarterback known for his ability to get rid of the ball lightning-fast matched against frighteningly bad, overmatched defense that, even on the limited occasions when it did cover reasonably well, had no chance against an artist who put the ball where only the receiver could get it. On that Saturday, Drew Brees threw for 522 yards and six touchdowns....in three quarters. He threw 36 passes, and had 5 incompletions. On Sunday night, ARodge threw 26 passes and had five incompletions. Three were throwaways. One was a drop. Though it is true that those Gophers gave up 56, and the Vikings gave up a mere 44 (including the punt return for a TD), Purdue was eventually forced to do the one thing that was never required of the Packers: Punt.
4. CLOSED-CIRCUIT TO VIKINGS FANS: CALM DOWN -- Drew Brees and the Saints are NOT on the Vikings 2013 schedule. I looked it up.
3. A THANK YOU TO CRIS COLLINSWORTH -- It's always good to get the national perspective, given that here, we sometimes can get too close to things. So when the Vikings' defense, after allowing the Packers to go 15-for-16 on third-or-fourth-down conversions, dug deep, and said "No more," and forced the Packers to settle for a field goal to make it 41-17, I appreciate his reminding us of what we might otherwise have been too blind to see: The Vikings show of pride.
2. A GOODBYE TO LES FRAZIER -- Leslie Frazier is never going to be the fiery, sideline presence that some (wrongly) assume is synonymous with good coaching. Yet on Sunday night, he looked as defeated and despondent as any coach I have ever seen on the sidelines. Clearly, he knows it's over. And he might even fear that, inexplicably, way too many people will forget to mention that given the hand dealt him at QB and the secondary, this utter mess is even more on the general manager than it should be on the coach.
1. NO NEED TO PONDER ANY LONGER -- One play should end the Ponder Era in Minnesota. For good. Forever. Without any lingering hesitation. No matter how unappealing the alternatives. On the Vikings' fourth play from scrimmage, the nanosecond he feels heat while fading to pass, he put his head down (a tough position from which to take a second look at available receivers or even become Checkdown Charlie) for a meaningless 5 yards. It's pure, unadulterated panic. From the guy who was going to have fun. Play loose. From the guy who when he was drafted was allegedly the most ready to meet the disorienting din of pro football with calm detachment and understanding. You know who he reminds me of now, three seasons later, when he plays? There's an underrated comedy called Quick Change in which Bill Murray takes hostages while he robs a bank. While most of the hostages try to remain calm under the difficult circumstances, so as not to make things worse, one of them, played by Randy Quaid, starts blubbering uncontrollably and screams out "We're all gonna die!"
That's Ponder's presence in the pocket: Randy Quaid.