Bills 20, Vikings 16: Ponder, Cassel struggle in sloppy loss

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Christian Ponder didn't help himself out at all in guiding the Vikings to five ugly possessions in a 20-16 loss to the Bills Friday night in Buffalo.

Ponder finished 5-of-12 for 53 yards. He was sacked twice and wasn't ready for a snap from John Sullivan that resulted in a 14-yard loss. This about sums up the offense with Ponder in charge.

Mansour writes that Ponder failed to convince doubters that he'll be better this season.

Ponder did guide the Vikings to one scoring drive, capped off by a 36-yard field goal by Blair Walsh. But the drive could have been better. Before the field goal, Ponder was sacked on third down from the Buffalo nine.

The 1st team defense kept the Bills off the scoreboard. The defensive highlight came when Jamarca Sanford intercepted a pass after rookie cornerback Xavier Rhodes tipped the ball in air.

Here is a recap of what 1st team offense accomplished:

  • Series 1: 3 and out ... punt
  • Series 2: 3 and out ... punt
  • Series 3: 3 and out ... missed field goal
  • Series 4: 12 plays, 47 yards ... field goal
  • Series 5: 3 and out ... punt

Here's a recap of what the 2nd team offense did under Matt Cassel, who finished 4-of-8 for 27 yards.

  • Series 1: 3 plays, bad snap into end zone ... Bills recover for a touchdown
  • Series 2: 3 and out ... Cassel strip-sacked on third down ... punt
  • Series 3: 3 and out ... punt
  • Series 4: 7 plays, 36 yards ... punt

Adrian Peterson did not play in the game. The Pioneer Press has more on that. Wide receiver Greg Jennings told sideline reporter Ben Leber that Peterson will be in the backfield next week against the 49ers.

Game notes:

  • Third-string running back Joe Banyard scored Minnesota's only touchdown. He plunged one-yard into the end zone on fourth-and-goal in the fourth quarter.
  • Third-string QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson led the fourth quarter charge. He hit undrafted free agent Rodney Smith 35-yard touchdown to cut the Bills lead to, 20-16.
  • Bethel-Thompson finished 10-of-17 for 107 yards and a touchdown.
  • Stephen Burton had a kick return for a touchdown called back thanks to a holding penalty on Tyrone McKenzie.
  • Toby Gerhart, starting in place of Peterson, finished with 23 yards on six carries.
  • Rookie punter Jeff Locke dropped two punts inside the ten and both were downed at the Buffalo two-yard line. He had three punts inside the 20 and a long of 61 yards.
  • Linebacker Desmond Bishop looked good at the end of the third quarter. He blew up a running back on a tackle for no gain and two plays later he sacked Bills QB E.J. Manuel.
  • Wide receiver Jarius Wright left the game with a possible concussion.

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