No Ponder, no chance.
Bet you never thought you would read that, but that seemed to be the case Saturday night when the Vikings season ended with a 24-10 loss in Green Bay.
Joe Webb filled in for Ponder, and was pretty much as one would expect for a player that didn’t throw a pass all season – awful.
Webb ran five times for 60 yards, but he completed only seven of his first 20 attempts for a measly 61 yards. Adrian Peterson gained 99 yards, and was pretty much bottled up all night by the Packers D.
As for the Vikings D, they didn’t do enough against Aaron Rodgers to make up for the lack of a passing game. Rodgers went 19 for 26 for 260 yards and no turnovers, leading touchdown drives of 82, 62 and 80 yards.
John Kuhn scored two touchdowns, DuJuan Harris added another and Rodgers connected with an NFL playoff-record 10 receivers as he threw for 274 yards in his first playoff victory at home.
Defensively, the Packers managed to put the clamps on AP, and were all over Webb, pressed into service because of Ponder’s elbow injury.
Peterson was held to 99 yards — an improvement after gaining 199 and 210 in the first two games. Webb, who hadn’t thrown a pass all season, was sacked three times and off target all night. His only highlight was a 50-yard scoring pass to Michael Jenkins late in the fourth quarter, but it was far too late for the Vikings.
“Close,” Ponder said of the decision not to play. “We went out pregame and threw a little bit, and just made the decision that it would probably be better off playing Joe with how limited I’d be.”
The team clearly wasn’t better off, and while Ponder watched in a Vikings sweatshirt from the sidelines, the offense was helpless all night.
It was another tough way to end what had become a magical season for the 10-win Vikings, but one that will be remembered for the bum elbow of Ponder, standing on the sidelines in Green Bay inactive.