A few thoughts on Sunday's events at CenturyLink Field:
What it means: The Minnesota Vikings lost their second consecutive game and have now dropped three of four since starting 4-1. Other than a big-time start to the game by tailback Adrian Peterson, the Vikings provided little evidence to refute the suggestion that they are riding a slow fade from relevancy.
PonderWatch: For the second time in three games, quarterback Christian Ponder failed to reach 100 yards passing. He grossed 63 yards against the Seattle Seahawks two weeks after managing 58 against the Arizona Cardinals. To be clear, the Seahawks' pass rush overpowered the Vikings, sacking Ponder four times and forcing him to scramble on five other occasions. But it all starts with the quarterback, and Ponder simply isn't playing at an NFL level. Another misfire on a bubble screen appeared to anger receiver Percy Harvin, and a weak fade pass to Harvin in the fourth quarter was intercepted. The Vikings are dedicated to giving Ponder a fair shake to prove he is their future starter. At some point, however, the issue becomes less about development and more about accountability. Ponder should be required to maintain a minimal level of play to remain on the field.
HarvinWatch: Harvin appeared particularly agitated about Ponder's second-quarter misfire, offering some pointed and emotional words to coach Leslie Frazier on the sideline. It was a bizarre game for the NFL's leading receiver, who had only two catches and seemed to have suffered a serious leg injury in the third quarter before returning in the fourth. Harvin is a tough player who rides an emotional roller coaster, and Sunday he appeared angry and frustrated for much of the game.
PetersonWatch: Peterson ripped off a 74-yard run on his second carry and had 144 yards at halftime. But the Vikings got him only five more carries the rest of the way, and he finished with 182 yards. I haven't seen every play yet, but you wonder if the Vikings missed an opportunity to ride the hot hand and minimize the struggles of a young quarterback.
What's next: The Vikings will host the Detroit Lions at the Metrodome for what will be their second NFC North game of the season.