Here's how key rookies performed in the Vikings' 35-32 loss to the Broncos Sunday.
QB Christian Ponder — Ponder set a Vikings single-game rookie record with 381 yards passing and three touchdowns. However, he had three turnovers that cost the Vikings 13 points in a game the team lost by three. Despite that, Ponder played his best game as a pro and showed marked improvement playing against the blitz.
TE Kyle Rudolph — Rudolph made a spectacular 19-yard touchdown reception, his only catch of the day, going up and over a Broncos defender to catch a jump ball in the endzone. It exemplified the type of playmaking ability that Rudolph has, but the team has struggled to consistently get him involved on offense.
DL Christian Ballard — After getting more playing time in losses to the Packers and Raiders in Weeks 10 and 11, Ballard has seen his time decrease a bit the last two games. He didn't make much of an impact Sunday, but he did have a QB hit on Tim Tebow.
WR Stephen Burton — Burton had two catches for 38 yards, the first two catches of his NFL career, with his first one coming against still-elite CB Champ Bailey. Burton ran a good route against Bailey, pushing him upfield before running the deep dig route, positioning his body well and giving Ponder a solid target to throw the ball to.
S Mistral Raymond — Raymond had a rough day in his first career start at free safety. The secondary, as a whole, blew multiple coverages Sunday, and Raymond also missed a few open-field tackles. He also had two penalties on punt returns, forcing the offense to start deep in its own territory.