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Eric Goska column: Low passer ratings leave Vikings winless on road

QBs have combined for rating of 58.9 as visitors

Nov. 23, 2013
 
Minnesota Vikings v Seattle Seahawks
Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder has a passer rating of 69.3 and a 7-to-4 interception-to-touchdown ratio on the road. / Getty Images

The Low Road

Teams which have a passer rating below 70 points in road games this season and how they’ve fared overall and on the road.

RateTeamOverallRoad
57.41Jets5-51-4
58.91Vikings2-80-5
63.22Bills4-71-4
63.47Titans4-62-2
64.37Jaguars1-91-4
65.95Browns4-61-4
66.72Ravens4-61-5
68.53Giants4-61-4
68.79Falcons2-80-5

More

It has been harder to win on the road this season than during any other this century.

For those teams that cannot muster a decent passing performance, the odds of victory grow even longer.

The Minnesota Vikings have the lowest passer rating away from home of any team in the NFC. It is one reason they are 0-5 in road games.

Minnesota has come up short in Detroit, Chicago, New York, Dallas and Seattle. It is one of three teams (Tampa Bay 0-4, Atlanta 0-5) that has yet to win on the road.

The Vikings drop in at Lambeau Field today, a setting in which they have produced a rating above 66 just once in their past seven regular-season visits. Should they again compile a low number, they likely will leave with a fourth straight regular-season loss at the stadium and seventh in eight tries since 2006.

Road warriors are harder to find this season. Through Week 11, visiting teams have won 61 of 162 games. That percentage (.377) is the lowest since 1998 (.371).

Out-of-towners, this season at least, tend to attempt more passes but complete fewer than they do at home. They also throw fewer touchdown passes and are more prone to interception.

Through 11 weeks, visitors have attempted 5,868 passes with 3,502 completions, 239 TDs and 173 interceptions (82.3 rating). Home teams have launched 5,706 passes with 3,582 completions, 269 TDs and 143 interceptions (90.4).

Of the 61 games road teams have won, about half occurred when they had a passer rating of less than 100. But those with two-digit ratings went 31-89 (.258). Those with three-digit showings went 30-12 (.714).

The Vikings twice have compiled three-digit ratings this season. They won both times, defeating Pittsburgh 34-27 in London (Matt Cassel, 123.4) and Washington 34-27 at the Metrodome (Christian Ponder, 113.1).

The game in England was considered a home game.

On the road, their ratings have been 63.1, 75.3, 40.6, 82.7 and 52.9. The Vikings and the Bills are the only teams to have failed to reach 90 points in a road game.

Ponder has done most of the Vikings’ passing on the road, where he has a rating of 69.3. His most glaring shortcoming: a 7-to-4 interception-to-touchdown ratio.

Josh Freeman (40.6 rating) was the starter in a 23-7 loss at the New York Giants. Cassel (52.7) relieved Ponder in a 41-20 loss in Seattle a week ago.

Ponder, Freeman and Cassel have combined for a 58.9 rating on the road. Only the Jets (57.4) are rated lower.

Green Bay has not been a pleasant stop for Minnesota since Mike McCarthy became Packers coach in 2006. McCarthy owns the best record at home against the Vikings (6-1) of any Packers coach (Ray Rhodes’ victory in 1999 notwithstanding).

Tarvaris Jackson (2 starts), Brooks Bollinger, Brett Favre (2) and Ponder (2) opened at quarterback for Minnesota in those seven games. Only Favre delivered victory, in November 2009 behind a performance that included four touchdown passes and a passer rating of 128.6.

A year later, his rating plummeted to 50.4. That’s similar to what Jackson (49.7), Bollinger (65.5) and Ponder (47.9) managed at Lambeau.

In each of Minnesota’s losses, the Packers had quarterbacks who posted ratings ranging from 14 to 87 points better than their Vikings counterparts. But the Packers no longer have a starting quarterback the caliber of Favre or Aaron Rodgers.

In each of the past seven regular-season meetings between these teams at Lambeau, the team with the better passer rating won. We’ll find out if inexperienced Scott Tolzien can outplay Ponder today.

Regular-season series

Overall: Packers lead 55-48-1.

At Lambeau Field: Green Bay leads 20-16-1.

Starting QBs

Packers: Scott Tolzien (0-1 overall; 0-0 vs. Minnesota).

Vikings: Christian Ponder (13-20; 1-4 vs. Green Bay).

Once a Viking, now a Packer

There are no former Vikings on the Packers’ roster.

Once a Packer, now a Viking

Wide receiver Greg Jennings (2006-12) is a former Packer. Linebacker Desmond Bishop (2007-11) is on the Vikings’ injured reserve list.

aegoska@sbcglobal.net

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