The first time Adrian Peterson offered a spirited defense of Christian Ponder, the Minnesota Vikings quarterback had just thrown two interceptions deep in Green Bay Packers territory -- including one in the end zone -- as the Vikings lost a crucial game at Lambeau Field last December.
Almost a year later, the Vikings are preparing to return to Green Bay. They're coming off a loss to the Seattle Seahawks during which Ponder threw two interceptions deep in Vikings territory -- including one that was returned for a touchdown. And Peterson is backing Ponder again.
Asked to respond to Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson's comments to the (St. Paul) Pioneer Press that Peterson "really needs a quarterback," the running back said in an interview with FoxSports.com on Tuesday that "I actually have confidence in Christian Ponder," that the Vikings' problems on offense run deeper than their struggles at quarterback and that Ponder still gives Minnesota a better chance to win than Matt Cassel or Josh Freeman because he's been in the team's system the longest.
"I don't feel like last week I was as consistent as I needed to be, but it doesn't show up as much because I'm not throwing the ball 30 times," Peterson said. "When you're inconsistent at quarterback and you get it picked off, that stuff gets highlighted. As a running back, when you miss a hole, it gets overlooked at times. I'm not as critical of the quarterback position because I know how much comes with it and I know how much scrutiny comes with it and how they are viewed in the public eye."
Ponder had one of his best games of the season Nov. 7 against the Washington Redskins, completing 17 of his 21 passes for 174 yards, two touchdowns and an interception before suffering a dislocated left shoulder trying to stretch for the end zone on a 13-yard run. He continued to play well in the first half Sunday against the Seahawks, connecting on nine of his 13 passes for 114 yards including a 38-yard touchdown to Jarius Wright. But in the second half, he hit just four of his nine passes for 15 yards and the two interceptions.
"You can't base it off of last game," Peterson said. "I think he responded well when he came back and helped us get a win against Washington. He went out in that game with a dislocated shoulder, and I'm on the sideline like, 'Hey man, shoot, pop it in and get back in there.' Guys were trying to get him back in there. It's one of those things like when you're doing good everyone is with you, and when you're doing bad they're against you. That's just how it goes, unfortunately."
The Vikings are 2-8 this season after going 10-6 and reaching the playoffs in 2012, but Peterson said coach Leslie Frazier still has the players' confidence.
"One thing that hasn't been lost is the will to win," Peterson said. "Even though we don't have a lot of W's, guys are out there and we're playing football. We're out there competing, and we believe in what Coach Frazier has to say."