With starting quarterback Christian Ponder nursing a fractured rib, veteran Matt Cassel started for the Minnesota Vikings Sunday. Cassel went 16-of-25 for 248 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions in a 34-27 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Through the first three games, the Vikings stumbled to an 0-3 record and Ponder’s struggles were a big reason for their poor start. This season, Ponder has completed 59 of 100 passes for 691 yards with two touchdowns, five interceptions and two fumbles.
Despite the struggles, Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier is backing his quarterback.
“It’s hard to be concrete when you know that Christian is dealing with an injury,” Frazier told Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com. “So we’ll see what happens.”
With a running back like Adrian Peterson, limiting turnovers is key and that’s something Ponder has really struggled with so far in his NFL career. That’s not to say Cassel hasn’t. In 2012, Cassel threw six touchdowns and 12 interceptions for the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Vikings have a bye this week and will next be in action when they host the Carolina Panthers on October 13. Despite the backing of Ponder, Frazier still isn’t being very clear about who he believes is going to start against the Panthers.
“If we thought Matt gave us the best chance to beat Carolina, then we would approach that situation as well,” Frazier said. “But if Christian is healthy, then we’ll take a look at what we need to do.”