Game Balls and Goats: Minnesota Vikings run away with Week 3 dishonors

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Updated: September 25, 2013

Minnesota Vikings quarerback Christian Ponder was slapped with a Week 3 NFC North Offensive Goat dishonor, leading some to question whether he will even be starting by Week 5.

Faithfully as ever, the NFC North Game Balls and Goats jury assembled during Monday Night Football to award Week 3 honors and demerits. It was a peculiar week for the NFC South committee, however, as they couldn’t seem to come to a consensus on most of the awards. As a result, although there is an overfull slate of NFC North awardees this week, several NFC South slots remain conspicuously open.

If you want to ensure that worthy NFC South players are recognized and unworthy players are shamed for all eternity, be sure to join us during this week’s Monday Night Football game to cast your votes. Everyone is welcome to serve on the panel.

But let’s not keep you waiting any longer. Our recipients are miced up and ready to thrill you with their acceptance speeches.

NFC North

Game Balls

Offense

Not every quarterback has the luxury of playing with two wide receivers who can go for 100 yards in the same day. Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford enjoyed that luxury this week, as both Calvin Johnson (115 yards on seven catches) and Nate Burleson (116 yard on six catches) eclipsed the century mark. Johnson also added a touchdown to bring his season total to three. Unfortunately, half the dynamic duo was lost this week when Burleson fractured his arm in a one-car accident. It’s not clear when, or if, he’ll return this season.

Honorable mention goes to Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who overcame some shaky play to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in convincing fashion.

Defense

Any player who can get it done in multiple phases of the game is likely to get strong Game Ball consideration, and Bears strong safety Major Wright did just that. He finished with seven tackles (six solo), one pass defensed, one forced fumble, and an interception of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger he returned 38 yards for a score.

Honorable mention goes to Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Brad Jones, who netted nine tackles and a forced fumble, and rookie Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ziggy Ansah, who sacked Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III twice and forced a fumble.

Special teams

Rookie Packers defensive end Datone Jones blocked a punt against Cincinnati.

Goats

Offense

This week’s dishonoree has been awarded this dubious distinction more than anyone else in the history of this series. Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder had another miserable outing, completing 25 of 42 passes for 228 yards — a miserable 5.4 yards per attempt average — and one interception. He also fumbled the ball away to the Cleveland Browns defense.

Dishonorable mention goes to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who didn’t look himself against the Bengals. In fact, his completion rate of 51.8 percent was actually lower than Ponder’s, and he threw two interceptions, although the first one wasn’t his fault. What spares him from this week’s offensive goat is the touchdown he threw.

Additional dishonors go to rookie Packers running back Johnathan Franklin, who despite an otherwise excellent day, coughed up a costly fumble on a fourth-down attempt that was returned for a touchdown and likely cost Green Bay the game. That one play probably also cost Franklin this week’s offensive game ball.

Defense

The Minnesota Vikings secondary made perennial backup quarterback Brian Hoyer look almost like a starter for the day, giving up 321 passing yards on 54 attempts, as well as three touchdowns. They did also come up with three interceptions, but it wasn’t enough to spare Minnesota another humiliating defeat.

Special teams

Minnesota special teams coach Mike Priefer failed to have his unit prepared for not one, but two fakes. The Browns lined up in punt formation, but instead of kicking the ball away, gave the ball to defensive back Josh Aubrey, who rushed up the middle for a 34-yard gain. They later lined up in field goal formation, but instead of snapping the ball to the kicker, punter Spencer Lanning tossed the ball to tight end Jordan Cameron, who was completely uncovered, for an 11-yard score. These two lapses represent a degree of failure rarely seen in a professional game.

Dishonorable mention goes Bears free safety Anthony Walters, who was flagged for roughing the kicker, extending the Steelers’ drive and leading to a 33-yard Roethlisberger touchdown pass.

Rounding out this week’s list of NFC North dishonorees is Packers returner Jeremy Ross, who muffed a kickoff at the Green Bay two-yard line, setting the Bengals up for an easy score on the ensuing play.

NFC South

Game Balls

Offense

After two weeks in which his offense had looked disorganized and scattered, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees pulled things together, throwing for 342 yards on 46 attempts (7.4 yards per attempt), three touchdowns, and one interception. The Saints remain undefeated and now have a commanding two-game lead atop the the division, spearheaded by their suddenly reinvigorated defense.

Defense

The team stumbled to an 0-2 start, but this week, the Carolina Panthers defense finally lived up to expectations. They held New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning to a mere 119 yards on 23 attempts (5.2 ypa) and the backfield to a scant 60 yards on 16 attempts. They also forced a pair of fumbles, recovering one lost by wide receiver Louis Murphy. All told, it added up to an impressive 38-0 defeat over a team many had thought would be a contender in the NFC.

Goat

Almost universal scorn and derision were heaped upon Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Harry Douglas, who was thoroughly inept in every phase of the game. He only caught one of the six targets thrown his way (for nine yards), and he fumbled a crucial punt return at the Atlanta 19-yard line, setting up Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill for an easy scoring strike. Right now Atlanta fans everywhere are wondering why Douglas hasn’t already been cut as Jeremy Ross was.

About the author(s)

Rourke Douglas Decker covers the Green Bay Packers beat for the Water Cooler Sports Network. He resides with his family in La Crosse, Wisconsin. He can be reached for questions or comments at . Connect with .

272 comments
MIBearFan
MIBearFan moderator

I'm going to miss Raji, but, if he's have the girl I think he is, he'll find a way to stay in touch.

Livefyre is being a bitch, and I have to go.

Peace, my brothers and sisters.

MIBearFan
MIBearFan moderator

bowled my ass off. Now I just have to get it fixed.

saintinsiam
saintinsiam

Mount or AllSaints, have you heard anything more about the Graham contract?

mountaineer4ever
mountaineer4ever

There was a time during the offseason of 2011 when I thought Josh Freeman was better than Matt Ryan ..... Boy was I wrong bigtime ......

saintinsiam
saintinsiam

So, it seems that the Tampa Bay meltdown is in full swing!

Buhlitz
Buhlitz

Calvin Johnson mic'd up vs redskins

these are always interesting

Buhlitz
Buhlitz

WTF you guys were making predictions without me?
I agree with whoever picked the Lions to win

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

Lions will win against. chicago.

Kidding, I have no fucking clue. I think it will depend on broyles.

50CaliberFalcon
50CaliberFalcon

 

Ryan is better than Brees so that was horrible thought

I miss Jim Varney
I miss Jim Varney moderator

If the running game can take pressure off The Staff, they have a good shot. Just my 2 cents.

mountaineer4ever
mountaineer4ever

  sure ....... I have watched a lot of smack videos from Falcons fans this offense and then had to deal with their crow videos the last 3 weeks ..... one more ....

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

  I doubt Bush will be 100%, but split between him and Bell, I feel ok about it. 

Preparation_A
Preparation_A

   

I specialize in not having a Facebook account.

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

  Bell is a Gem, Bush staying healthy......well, we'll see.

I miss Jim Varney
I miss Jim Varney moderator

  Bell is doing pretty well so far. The duo can be pretty effective if used right...and Bush stays upright.

I miss Jim Varney
I miss Jim Varney moderator

   Exactly. Everytime I type in response to him I want to flirt with him. Makes me confused and aroused at the same time.

Natesweet
Natesweet moderator

  It's the way he casually portrays himself as a hot blonde, isn't it?

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

 Are you trying to anger me Rourke?

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

 wait is that saints chicka?