After the Vikings week two loss to Indianapolis cooled the momentum of the week one overtime win, the daunting task of facing what many have dubbed the NCF representative in the Super Bowl, the San Francisco 49ers. The team responded as Christian Ponder had the best game of his career in the Vikings 24-13 upset win at Mall of America Field.
Ponder led the Vikings on a 16 play 78 yard scoring drive that was capped on a one yard touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph on fourth down. Ponder did his damage in the second quarter on the ground as he scrambled out of the pocket to avoid pressure, found a lane and took off 23 yards to the end zone for the 14-3 lead.
Ponder's precision continued in the second half as he found Rudolph once again this time from two yards out. Rudolph made a spectacular one handed catch in the back of the end zone. The scoring drive put momentum back in the favor of the Vikings after the 49ers cut the score to 17-14.
"This was a big one for us. We knew we had to come out here and get a win after letting one go last week," said Rudolph.
The 49ers made things interesting late trailing 24-13 as they created and recovered two Toby Gerhart fumbles, but couldn't capitalize on the Vikings mistakes.
The defense forced two turnovers late in the game to seal the win including the team's first interception of the season by rookie cornerback Josh Robinson. For the first time this year, the defense was able to get off the field on third down. The inability to stop opponents on third down was a big reason the first two games were as close as they were.
Adrian Peterson found yardage hard to come by as he picked up 86 yards on 25 carries.
The game marked the return of former two time Viking Randy Moss as he made his return to Mall of America Field making three catches for 27 yards.
The Vikings sit atop the NFC North at 2-1 with the win and will travel to Detroit to face the Lions next week.
Ponder Steps Forward:
In his second season, Christian Ponder has shown glimpses of what the organization thought he would bring to the table when they drafted him in the first round. Ponder twice found tight end Kyle Rudolph for touchdowns that required touch. On the first score, Ponder rolled left and while back pedaling hit Rudolph with a pass that was lobbed to the back of the end zone.
Leading 14-3 in the second quarter, Letroy Guion blocked a David Akers attempt from 43 yards out. It is the second block at home in the kicking game. The first came in week one when rookie Matt Kalil blocked an extra point.
Upon Further Review:
The replacement officials got another one wrong late in the fourth quarter. With the Vikings working the clock, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh used his last timeout to stop the clock on a second down play. Toby Gerhart fumbled the ball at the end of the play but the challenge flag was not thrown until after the timeout was called. By rule, a team needs to have a timeout in order to challenge a play which San Francisco did not.