EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — The only passes from Christian Ponder that didn't sail over a receiver's head or bounce harmlessly out of bounds seemed to land in the arms of a Green Bay defender just as the Minnesota Vikings were approaching the end zone.
At one point, the beleaguered quarterback went nearly 39 minutes of game action without completing a pass, rendering moot another breath-taking performance from Adrian Peterson.
Yet through all the struggles, all the poor footwork and all the back-breaking mistakes that allowed a winnable road game against a division opponent to swirl down the drain, coach Leslie Frazier stuck with Ponder. And he sticks by him still.
Frazier said Monday he never considered pulling Ponder against the Packers and believes he is the QB that gives the team the best chance to win against Chicago this week.
"It hasn't come up any time this season where I thought we needed to pull him out of a game," Frazier said. "That hasn't occurred."
Frazier acknowledged such unwavering support, whether solely his decision or a result of a directive from the front office that drafted Ponder in the first round last season, has the potential to rankle other players in the locker room — players who seem to be held to a different standard of accountability.
"I've thought about that a lot because when you're struggling at a position, the guys know how we talked about everybody doing their jobs and why it's important for us to have our success," Frazier said. "You don't want to send mixed messages at any position."
The Vikings led the Packers 14-10 at halftime, jumping on Peterson's broad shoulders to move into position for a commanding lead early in the third quarter when Peterson ripped off a 48-yard run to the Green Bay 12-yard line. Ponder was intercepted in the end zone on the next play.
With Percy Harvin missing his third straight game, Ponder didn't complete a pass to a wide receiver until late in the fourth quarter. The putrid air game allowed the Packers to weather a 210-yard day from Peterson and a shaky performance from their own offense to drop the Vikings to 6-6.
Ponder's struggles were so glaring that Frazier was asked repeatedly Monday about his reluctance to play backup Joe Webb in the second half. Webb has provided a spark periodically over the past two seasons, including games at Philadelphia in 2010 and at Washington last year.
Frazier has shown a willingness to rotate players during games at other positions, including safety with Jamarca Sanford and Mistral Raymond, and right guard with Brandon Fusco and Geoff Schwartz. But the coach said Monday he approaches quarterback with a different view, one that values continuity above all else.