Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 12/11/11
In a season full of them, Sunday might qualify as the Minnesota Vikings' most disappointing loss of the season. Minnesota has had plenty of interesting, sometimes embarrassing, losses. Meanwhile, the Vikings are still finding new, strange ways to lose and Sunday's 34-28 loss at Detroit might not be topped. The final play might have summarized the entire season. Backup quarterback Joe Webb drove Minnesota down the field with a chance to win with a first down at the 1-yard line with nine seconds left. Webb pulled the ball down after his initial look was covered and fumbled the ball, which was then batted around almost 50 yards before Detroit recovered with no time left. To top it off, replays showed the Lions committed a facemask penalty which should have given the Vikings one more play, but referees missed the penalty. In the end, Minnesota was competitive against another potential playoff team, but took another last-second loss. Now at 2-11, the loss might be the best thing for a Vikings team in need of the highest draft pick possible. Here are five things learned at Detroit: 1. Turnovers are a problem for the rookie quarterback. Minnesota's rookie quarterback Christian Ponder is receiving valuable experience this season and has shown a mix of promise and bad decisions. The bad decisions - usually resulting in turnovers - are starting to get out of hand now though. Ponder had three turnovers in his first three starts. He's had 10 (eight interceptions, two lost fumbles) in the past four games. The playing experience is important for Ponder, but only if he learns from his mistakes. He repeatedly has forced balls into coverage and his arm strength has been lacking on some of the tougher routes. Several of the throws just can't be made in the NFL, different from what he might have gotten away with in college. Ponder still led two touchdown drives, was 11 for 21 for 115 yards passing, two touchdowns, three interceptions and a lost fumble before being benched in the second half after taking a blindside hit after his final interception. Ponder was already dealing with a hip pointer injury and Minnesota was probably just protecting what it believes is the quarterback of the future. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said after the game that Ponder will remain the team's starter. Ponder now needs to show progress. He has to make fewer bad decisions while continuing to show his big-play ability to prove he is the quarterback of the future. 2. Harvin isn't giving in on this lost season. Plenty has gone wrong for the Vikings this season, but receiver Percy Harvin is showing what type of competitor he is. As the season has slipped away, Harvin seems to be getting better. Harvin caught a receiving touchdown for the fourth straight week. Harvin broke a career-receiving mark for the second straight game (had a career-high 156 receiving yards last week) with a career-best 10 catches for 69 yards. He added four rushes for 40 yards and had a 47-yard kickoff return. 3. Jared Allen is the league's best pass rusher. Defensive end Jared Allen might be the defensive match to Harvin. While urgency and desperation seems to be lacking at times from many of Minnesota's players, Allen is another one that is giving his all in a tough season. Allen had three sacks on Sunday to bring his league-leading total to 17.5, well within Michael Strahan's single-season record of 21.5. Allen's third sack Sunday also gave him 100.5 for his career, the most in the NFL since he entered the league in 2004. His 17.5 sacks this season are a career high and the fourth-most in Vikings history for a single season. He's failed to record at least a half-sack in only two games this season. 4. The secondary needs a complete infusion of talent. The Vikings secondary has been hit with injuries this season, but it was overmatched even before injuries came into play. Too many teams have had their way in the passing game against Minnesota this season. For the second straight game, a touchdown was scored on a pass between cornerback Cedric Griffin and safety Jamarca Sanford, who have started all season. Titus Young's 57-yard touchdown catch came after he was released by Griffin, who couldn't keep up, and Sanford who was late getting over. Denver had success against the same competition last week, and this is against the only two players that have started every game. Griffin was benched after the play and didn't return. Coming back from another knee surgery, Griffin is just not the player he used to be. The rest of the secondary is made up of cornerbacks Asher Allen, Benny Sapp, Marcus Sherels and safeties Mistral Raymond and Jarrad Page. Allen, Sherels and Raymond have been pressed into more playing time they might not be ready for, and Sapp and Page have only signed with the team in recent weeks. Meanwhile, the Vikings haven't intercepted a pass in eight games. 5. Webb is an athlete. Joe Webb has started games at quarterback and receiver during his two-year career and has shown athleticism no matter where he lines up. Webb is a weapon, if not a quarterback. Coming in to replace Ponder, Webb ran seven times for 109 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown that opened up after he eluded a player near the line of scrimmage. The 109 rushing yards were the most in Vikings' history for a quarterback in a single game. Webb, who started three games last year, also completed 12 of his 23 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown. The Lions tried to restrict Webb's rushing on the final drive and he was able to piece enough passes together to still drive the team down to the 1-yard line before the fateful fumble. Ponder will remain the starter, but Webb showed he has the athleticism to help the Vikings.
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