It couldn 't have gotten much worse for the Minnesota Vikings in last night 's Wild Card game loss to the Green Bay Packers .

On a four game winning streak , and one week after beating the Packers 37 -34 , the Vikings crapped the bed and were sent home for the winter after a 24 -10 loss .

Minutes before kickoff , starting quarterback was declared inactive with an elbow injury . Joe Webb , who became the first NFL quarterback since 1950 to start a playoff game without throwing a regular season pass , was thrown to Clay Matthews and other green and gold -clad wolves .

Leading up to the game , Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said that "Joe has prepared all season long , knowing that he was just one injury away . Joe has a different mentality , and I don 't think this game will be too big for him . "

Nonetheless , the rust was evident . Webb completed 3 of 12 passes for 22 yards at halftime , and had it not been for a garbage time 50 -yard touchdown to Michael Jenkins , would have the worst postseason performance by a Vikings quarterback ever since 2008 .

You don 't have to look far to know how Vikings fans feel about the quarterback play . Vikings chat rooms have been blowing up with comments like :

'Can we be done reading and listening to how good Webb is and how he should be starting . . . . .that was embarrassing ! The worst qb play I have ever seen in the NFL . . . .he 's not an NFL qb ! ! ! '

Remember , in the preseason , how much Vikings fans wanted Joe Webb to start ? And that he gave the Vikings the best chance to win games ? Or when the Vikings had lost four of five games from Weeks 8 -13 , and fans wanted the reigns handed to Joe Webb ?

 

I can guarantee you nobody will be calling for Joe Webb in Week 1 next season .

Last night was a scenario that couldn 't go wrong for Christian Ponder . If he played struggled , he could have blamed it on his bum elbow . If he didn 't play , and Webb struggled , the fans would be calling for him next season . If Webb won , Ponder would be handed the reins to a team on a five -game winning streak , on the road against an Atlanta Falcons team that has been a recent disappointment in the playoffs .

Webb struggled .

Ponder showed significant improvement the last four games of the season . Ponder not only played his "game manager " position , but he made big throws when he needed too .


But the off -season question will remain : How hurt is Christian Ponder , and should fans question his toughness ?

Unless Leslie Frazier has one of the best poker faces around , it looked like Ponder was going to start his first playoff game last night . Fans ( including myself ) gave Webb little to no chance of starting last nights game . After all , Brett Favre played with a broken thumb on his throwing hand Jared Allen has played with a tornlabrum . But Webb had to start for Ponder , who had a bruise on his throwing elbow .

And frankly , we wish he hadn 't .

And now Webb , not Ponder , has to hear from the critics about the loss all off -season .

The Vikings game plan into the game featured Adrian Peterson , who had ran for 409 yards in two meetings with the Packers this season . How bruised was Ponder 's elbow that he couldn 't have played ?

 

Unless , like mentioned before , Frazier had no intention of starting Ponder and banked on the the surprise of starting Webb upsetting the Packer 's defensive rhythm .

Instead of trashing Webb all off -season , should we be questioning Ponder's toughness ? Ponder 's injury has been upgraded from an elbow bruise to elbow bursitis . . .an injury that could take up to two months to heal . Ponder tried to play yesterday , but evidently the Vikings training staff felt that Webb gave the Vikings a better chance to win than Ponder did .

And if that 's the case , I 'm happy the Vikings didn 't throw Ponder out there .

Ponder tested his arm in pregame by making ten , intermediate range throws . He was spotted having a dark purple bruise on the back of his arm . . . reminiscent of the Brett Favre bruises from the 2009 NFC Championship Game .

As if the 12 man de ja vu wasn 't bad enough .

Frazier has been concerned with Ponder 's confidence this season . Fans have seen the difference between confident (16 -28 , 234 yards , 3 touchdowns against Green Bay in Week 17 ) and the unconfident (11 -22 , 63 yards , 1 interception against Seattle in Week 9 ) Christian Ponder this season .

By missing the playoff game , Ponder can continue to build off the success he had at the end of he season , rather than be held back by a potentially disappointing performance against the Packers .

Think of it as a blessing in disguise as the Vikings continue to build a championship -caliber squad .