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By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Eden Prairie, MN - Shortly after Sunday's 35-32 loss to the Denver Broncos, rookie quarterback Christian Ponder was about as down in the dumps as we've seen him in Minnesota. Harsh criticism of what would prove to be statistically his best game as a pro, manifested itself as the true definition of adding 'insult to injury.'
"I'm disappointed in myself but it's hard to look these guys in the eyes," Ponder said Sunday following the loss. "It's hard to look Jared Allen in the eyes and tell him I had two picks and a fumble and I cost us the game. It's tough and I have to do a better job of making myself better and put my team in a better position to win games."
As Ponder stepped up to the podium in the Winter Park Fieldhouse Wednesday afternoon, his attitude had brightened a bit but the feelings towards his contribution to the loss were still lingering.
"Looking back, three of those plays were just dumb," Ponder said Wednesday. "The fumble, knowing the guys in the NFL, they’re going to try and strip the ball. As a quarterback, I’ve got to hold on to the ball. The first interception I tried to throw a curl route into a Cover 2, I mean that’s not going to happen in the NFL. And then the last one, I tried to throw a smash route into a Cover 2, the corner sinks and I’ve got to see that. I can’t be forcing those things."
Despite the turnovers, Ponder truly did have one of his best games as a quarterback in the NFL. Playing against one of the league's hottest defensive units, Ponder threw for 381 yards and 3 touchdowns as two normally low scoring teams blew the roof off of the Metrodome in Minneapolis. Besting his previous career high by 145 yards, Ponder chucked the ball 47 times on Sunday keeping the Vikings in a ball game that according to their defense, they had no business being in.
While the pundits will continue to chalk the turnovers and mental lapses up to the adage of 'rookie mistakes,' Ponder has no interest in seeking such excuses for his mishaps.
"It gets old," Ponder said. "I don’t want to make those [rookie] mistakes. I get mad at myself when I do. I don’t expect myself to make mistakes and I don’t like making excuses that ‘hey I’m a rookie, I’m going to make those [mistakes].' I’d rather make zero.”
If the harsh reality of the in-game mistakes wasn't enough, Ponder is also being held out of practice this week with a hip-pointer that he suffered in the first quarter of Sunday's game.
"I’m going to try to be out there as soon as possible," Ponder said in regards to his injury. "When I’m not practicing I’m definitely going to be taking mental reps and doing everything I can to prepare myself. I’ll be watching a lot of film."
Ponder said that the injury occurred early in the game when a Denver defenseman planted the crown of his helmet right into his hip. Although he stayed in the game, Christian claimed that the injury did effect his mobility and after sleeping on it, the area around the hip stiffened up.
"It’s stiff," Ponder explained. "The crazy thing is, it’s right in your hip but then there’s so much swelling everywhere that everything that attaches to the hip is sore as well. It's not fun."
Both Leslie Frazier and Christian Ponder claim that the team's starting quarterback will be ready to go against the Detroit Lions this week, but that may not be determined until he steps foot on the practice field this Friday.
"I’m not too concerned. I’ve been working, pretty much, ever since the game ended on Sunday with Eric Sugarman our head trainer. There’s been a lot of progress since it first happened. Monday I was pretty sore, yesterday I was pretty sore but today I feel better."
Ponder plans to wear extra pads on his hip this weekend and although he won't admit it, the fact that Lions DT Ndamukong Suh will be stuck on his couch Sunday afternoon should aid Ponder with both his health issues and further building his on the field confidence.
Aj Mansour covers Minnesota Sports for KFAN.com. Feel free to leave comments and questions regarding this post in the space provided below. For Vikings updates and breaking Vikings news, follow Aj on Twitter. @AjMansourKFAN
*Photo By: Aj Mansour