Quarterback Christian Ponder and tight end John Carlson are a couple of guys that have been much maligned by fans of the Minnesota Vikings for the past couple of seasons, and with good reason. . .well, most of the time, anyway. We've heard all about Ponder's ups and downs as the Vikings' quarterback. . .though, strangely, we hear a lot more about his "downs" than we do about his "ups". . .and Carlson has severely underperformed for the team since signing a big contract during the 2012 off-season.
On Thursday night against the Washington Redskins, however, the two of them got into quite the rhythm and played a pretty large role in getting the Vikings their second victory of the 2013 season.
For Ponder, it looked like it was going to be another long night when things started. On his second pass attempt of the game, he threw an ill-advised bomb into double coverage while looking for Greg Jennings, only to have the ball intercepted by Redskins safety/cheap shot artist Brandon Merriweather. From that point on, however, Ponder played some pretty outstanding football. . .after the interception, Ponder went 16-for-19 for 164 yards and two touchdowns, and nearly added a third score on the ground near the end of the third quarter, but was stopped at the half-yard line. Ponder left the game at that point with a shoulder dislocation.
The biggest beneficiary of Ponder's night was Carlson, who was seeing an increased role in the offense after Kyle Rudolph injured his foot against the Dallas Cowboys. Coming into the night, Carlson had just 11 catches on the season for 61 yards, and had not found the end zone since Week 3. . .of the 2010 season. But, Carlson put together the best game he's had in years, bringing in seven passes for 98 yards and a 28-yard touchdown. The touchdown reception saw him start out as a blocker, come back across the formation into the open when Ponder couldn't find anybody open, and stiff-arm Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall before diving past the pylon for a touchdown that brought things back to a one-score game. Five of Carlson's seven grabs on the evening also moved the chains for Minnesota.
Without the contributions of Ponder and Carlson, the Minnesota Vikings could very easily have dropped this Thursday night game to the Redskins. But because of the unlikely duo, they pulled it out, and that's good enough to make them our Teammates of the Week for this week. We'll have to see if they can keep things up this weekend, as the Vikings are a heavy underdog to Carlson's former employers, the Seattle Seahawks.