Is Samantha Steele’s relationship with Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder to blame for Minnesota’s slump?

The idea that Steele, and ESPN reporter, has become a distraction for Ponder and is the cause of the Vikings’ recent woes was brought up in a radio interview Ponder gave to a Minnesota radio station.

Steele “has nothing to do with it,” Ponder told KFAN’s Paul Allen, referring to Minnesota losing three of their last four games after the Vikings went 4-1 to start the season. "We've been dating since the beginning of the season so she had also to do with the five wins. It has really nothing to do with anything on the football field." You can view the whole KFAN interview here.

Ponder went public with his relationship with Steele, an ESPN reporter, last month.

If anything, Steele’s love of football has inspired Ponder to become a better player, the quarterback told KFAN.

"She's a huge football fan," Ponder said of his girlfriend. "She understands the game and understands the commitment to the game and commitment to work. She's the one who pushes me to do better at my job."

Pro football observers dismissed the idea that Steele is a factor in the Vikings’ struggles, pointing out that Minnesota’s defense has been dismal during the slump.

“It’s not Steele’s fault that the defense has allowed an average of 33 points/game during Minnesota’s last two losses,” wrote sports blog Yard Barker.

Ponder set off speculation that he was dating Steele when he tweeted a photo of a Disney princess Halloween costume Oct. 9 with the caption, “I was surprised to see @Samantha_Steele in Target today.”

The down-to-earth quarterback, who is not afraid to show off his goofy side and is always interacting with his more than 105,000 Twitter followers, gushed about his relationship with Steele.

Twitter user Molly Elizabeth, who lives in Tallahassee, Fla., where Ponder played quarterback at Florida State, called Ponder and Steele dating the “best news” ever.

“I’m impressed,” she wrote to Ponder.

The Vikings quarterback responded, “haha I'm not gonna lie I am kind of impressed with myself too.”

Ponder joked that Steele, a blonde-haired beauty, was out of his league.

A Twitter follower said Ponder is “doing grrrrrreat” for dating Steele, and the quarterback replied, “haha yeah don't ask how I pulled that off cuz I don't even know.”

The Twitter flirting between Ponder and Steele started when Vikings teammate Jerome Simpson posted a picture of the Vikings quarterback in the Minnesota locker room wearing pink cleats for breast cancer awareness on the micro-blogging site.

Steele commented about the attire and the rest of Ponder’s ensemble.

She tweeted, “my eyes!! Pink ... Red ... Spandex?!”

“I like to diversify my colors,” Ponder replied. “And real men wear spandex.”