Ponder me this: A two-game lead after two weeks over the team that edged you out of the playoffs last season.
The wolves are already out for Christian Ponder in the Twin Cities after his three-pick performance in the Vikings' 34-24 season-opening loss in Detroit Sunday. The most critical came late in the first half with Minnesota driving, looking to add to a 14-6 lead. The Lions would drive the other way, reach the end zone, and get to within a point at intermission before another early TD drive in the third quarter that provided the lead for good.
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Momentum. At home. It didn't look like the Lions or Bears had that at certain points Sunday. Things turned for Detroit on that Ponder pick. The Bears had to withstand Jay Cutler's only pick sandwiched between the 4 1/2-minute, 80-yard drive that answered the Bengals' second-half opening drive, and Tim Jennings' forced fumble and recovery against Mohamed Sanu inside the Bears' 20.
Ponder also had a fumbled exchange with Adrian Peterson down a field goal early in the 4th at Ford Field. Result? Detroit marches down the other way to make it a 10-point game. Ponder's inconsistencies in the passing game (Greg Jennings had just three receptions) allows defenses to focus more on Peterson. After his season-opening 78-yard TD run, the rushing king was held to 15 yards on 17 carries thererafter. That doesn't necessarily always happen with a back as gifted as A.P., and it doesn't mean the Bears can do the same next Sunday if Ponder remains, well, Ponder. But it sure helps. The Vikings compiled just three rushing first downs Sunday in Motown.
The Lions also had a 12-minute time of possession edge, which always helps versus Peterson, and allowed just one sack (by Jared Allen) despite two new starters on the right side of their offensive line. Sound familiar?
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The Bears never should have put themselves in the position they did at the end of last season, rooting for the Packers against the Vikings after their Week 17 victory in Detroit. It's still way too early to start projecting. I don't have to remind you about the 7-1 start last season. But as long as they're here and have an opportunity to grab a two-game lead on the purple-pants rivals (who'd fall to 0-2 in the NFC North, as well), they might as well take advantage.
The Bears showed impressive resiliency against a playoff team Sunday. It wasn't perfect, by any means, but a big first step in how they believe in themselves and their new head coach. Let's see if that grows, along with their offense, and their division lead over one team they finished behind a year ago.