Christian Ponder's last month hasn't been good. That isn't breaking news.
His 62 yards of passing in the opening drive against Detroit nearly equaled the 63 total he had in the previous week against Seattle. It has been a struggle, and fans and media members have lined up to blame everything from poor mechanics to his girlfriend, ESPN reporter Samantha Steele.
Welcome to the life of an NFL starting quarterback.
"We didn't do anything special. We came out and played like we were supposed to," said Ponder. "Ten guys including me caught the ball and unfortunately for me, I'm going to need to throw myself a 15 yard pass to negate the negative 15 yards."
Ponder didn't stop there.
"Also, I want to thank my girlfriend," said Ponder. "because obviously she has such a big impact on how I play."
With that statement and resulting chuckles from the members of the media in attendance, Ponder gave an exhale that only comes with winning. All kidding aside, Ponder returned to the form that had his team 5-2. His ability to keep the turnovers down and stand in the pocket and work through his progressions.
He completed his first six passes including the mentioned one to himself that resulted in a 15 yard loss. All told, Ponder found 10 different players without his top receiver Percy Harvin.
So which Ponder is the real one? The Vikings hope the one that reemerged today. He was only sacked once, and looked more comfortable in the pocket.
"I don't know what the key was," said Ponder. "We put a lot of emphasis in staying in the pocket, just relaxing and getting through my reads."
His first series was huge in gaining positive momentum and keeping the boo's out of the equation. His 54 yard bomb to rookie Jarius Wright built Ponder some equity with the 64,000 at Mall of America Field and set the tone.
"I felt the way he practiced all week especially Friday he was really on fire," said head coach Leslie Frazier. "We were going from one drill to another and I said 'you've got to save some of this for Sunday'."
The second year quarterback will have a week to enjoy getting back on track. Then it is right into the belly of the beast as the team heads to Chicago to battle the first place Bears. A challenge Ponder is ready for.
"We'll focus on Chicago, maybe the best team in the league right now," said Ponder. "We're going to have to be really focused to take advantage of the opportunity we have at hand."