Ponder vs. Peterson: Skip Bayless is right?!
May, 9, 2013
By Kevin Seifert | ESPN.com
Well, knock me over with a feather. I found myself not completely disagreeing with "First Take" panelist Skip Bayless in this video discussion of the Minnesota Vikings' 2012 playoff run.
To take a step back, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman produced a news ripple recently when he told the NFL Network that quarterback Christian Ponder deserves "just as much credit for getting us in the playoffs" in 2012 as tailback Adrian Peterson. On first blush, the statement smacked of a general manager propping up one of his most important (and unproven) draft picks.
But as Bayless accurately pointed out, Ponder played better than many people realize during the Vikings' 4-0 finish to the regular season. How well? As we noted at the time, Ponder produced the league's second-highest Total Quarterback Rating (86.8) during that stretch. And over the final half of the season, he had the league's second-best QBR on third downs.
Peterson handily won the league's MVP award and rushed for 651 yards and four touchdowns during that same 4-0 finish. (All with an undisclosed sports hernia injury.) Moreover, without his earlier contributions, the Vikings never would have been in position to make a playoff run in the first place.
I don't know how to quantify credit for contributions to a playoff run. Spielman's equal split was probably generous toward Ponder, but let's put it this way: If Ponder hadn't straightened himself out in December, the Vikings wouldn't have made it to the postseason.