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Christian Ponder: Samantha Steele not affecting play

Christian Ponder's recent slump had the pundits aflutter.

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The Minnesota Vikings quarterback was sharp and efficient during the team's 4-1 start, but appeared lost during a skid that saw the team lose three of its next four games. Some blamed Ponder's footwork, others his inability to see the play develop -- and some blamed a woman.

Ponder has struck up a romance with ESPN sideline reporter Samantha Steele. There was concern the union might veer the second-year passer off the rails in the spirit of the Tony Romo-Jessica Simpson trainwreck of old.

Not so fast. Ponder looked sharp in Sunday's 34-24 win over the Detroit Lions, passing for 221 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He used the moment to address the fact he's dating someone and -- collect yourselves -- playing football at the same time.

"I want to thank my girlfriend," Ponder told The Star Tribune after the game. "Because she obviously has such a big impact on how I play. Which allowed me to win. So thank you."

(Fair enough, sir, and we'll save the deeper analysis on Ponder's season for another post.)

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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