Ponder thanks Samantha Steele for victory

Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder -- tongue planted firmly in cheek -- takes a shot at his critics who think his relationship with ESPN reporter Samantha Steele has been affecting his recent play.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Tongue planted firmly in cheek, Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder thanked "his girlfriend"for inspiring him to lead Minnesota to a 34-24 win over Detroit Sunday at Mall of America Field.

Ponder was taking a good-natured shot at his critics, some of who think that ESPN reporter Samantha Steele might be a distraction this season -- especially in the past few weeks when Ponder has been off his passing game.

Ponder, in an interview this past week with Vikings play-by-play man Paul Allen, said that Steele has been around since Week 1 -- so she should get credit for five victories as well. Make it six.

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