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Leslie Frazier: Christian Ponder 'capable' of clutch play

There's a sense the Minnesota Vikings have done the improbable -- winning four consecutive games to make the playoffs -- despite the play of Christian Ponder.

The Vikings' starting quarterback has been a mixed bag this season and, at his worst, a handoff machine for Adrian Peterson, but the team believes in its signal-caller based on his recent play -- not just his potential.

Coach Leslie Frazier told "NFL AM" on Wednesday that Ponder has what it takes to pull the Vikings out of a tight spot if Peterson is slowed by the Green Bay Packers during Saturday night's playoff rematch.

"Evidenced by what he did on Sunday against a high-powered Green Bay offense and a very good Green Bay defense, having to match points to a degree," Frazier said. "This is a team that had scored 55 points the week before and for us to go out and score 37, our highest output of the season, a lot of that has to do with Christian."

Frazier has a point. Ponder's play has been near-clutch of late. He has converted eight third downs of 6 or more yards over his past two games, including a sensational 25-yard completion on third-and-11 during Sunday's game-winning drive against the Packers.

"So he's shown that he's capable of making those plays that we need from the quarterback position in critical moments," Frazier said. "So, yes, we can get it done if we have to get into that type of ballgame."

People aren't going to believe in Ponder until he does it consistently, but during a season in which first-year passers surged, patience is at an all-time low.

Ponder is a young quarterback, and young quarterbacks don't develop on identical timelines. The Vikings are satisfied with Ponder's growth, and the team is rolling into the NFC playoffs. Things could be worse.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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