EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. Christian Ponder arrived at the Metrodome for the Minnesota Vikings' game Sunday against the Detroit Lions in the kind of slump that would perplex even the most veteran quarterbacks.
Ponder, though, isn't a veteran -- far from it. He was making his 20th NFL start and likely was prepared for criticism from home fans if he got off to another sluggish start. Boos would predictably rain down. Calls for backup quarterback Joe Webb would be loud. The rumblings from the Vikings faithful had already begun during the previous week's road loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Then, on the fifth offensive play against Detroit, Ponder escaped a bit of pressure in the pocket with awareness he hadn't shown in several weeks. He stepped forward to buy time and lofted a deep pass for rookie receiver Jarius Wright. The outcome was a 54-yard catch, the longest of the season for Minnesota, but the result was far wider-reaching than one early play in a midseason game.