Christian Ponder, passing game holding back Vikings


The Minnesota Vikings' 36-17 loss on Thursday night to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers isn't all on quarterback Christian Ponder.

The Vikings' defense let Doug Martin run wild. They couldn't get off the field on third down. Jerome Simpson and Adrian Peterson both lost fumbles. The team lost cornerback Chris Cook to a broken wrist.

With all that out of the way, Ponder clearly was the inferior young quarterback in this game. When Minnesota fell down two scores early, it felt like the kind of game this team couldn't win. The Vikings never truly were competitive. They just aren't built for Ponder to throw the ball too much.

They actually had momentum in the second half after a long Peterson touchdown and a Jared Allen throwdown and sack combination.

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Minnesota had a chance to get back in the game, however its next two drives were three-and-outs that went backward. Too often, the Vikings' offensive line didn't give Ponder a chance. But he also tends to hold on to the ball too long and doesn't pull the trigger on tough passes.

It was very telling that the Buccaneers kept eight men in the box even with a big lead late in the game. They weren't scared of Ponder throwing, which is a trend from opposing defenses. The Buccaneers invited Ponder and his receivers to beat them one-on-one.

"I know I've got to get better," Ponder said, via The Associated Press. "I put a lot of pressure on myself anyway, and I'll always have high expectations."

At this stage, Ponder just isn't ready.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.