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Updated: December 18th, 2011 3:11pm
Saints' Drew Brees throws 5 TD passes as woeful Vikings fall to 2-12

Saints' Drew Brees throws 5 TD passes as woeful Vikings fall to 2-12

by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Vikings porous pass defense had another afternoon to forget. Really that goes for the entire team.

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees completed 32 of 40 passes for 412 yards and five touchdowns as the NFC South-leading Saints cruised to a 42-20 victory over the overmatched Vikings at the Metrodome.

Brees threw one touchdown in the first quarter, two in the second and two more in the third. The five touchdown passes tied a record for the most against the Vikings in a game. The damage could have been worse but Chase Daniel was brought in to replace Brees early in the fourth.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, Brees became the sixth player in NFL history to throw for 400 yards with at least five touchdown passes and no interceptions. The last quarterback to do it was former Viking Donovan McNabb, who accomplished the feat with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004.

Running back Adrian Peterson returned for the Vikings after missing three games because of a high left ankle sprain but it did the Vikings little good as they fell to 2-12 with two games remaining. Peterson ran for 60 yards on 10 carries with a long run of 39 yards.

Rookie quarterback Christian Ponder threw two touchdown passes to running back Toby Gerhart but overall he continued to struggle as the Vikings moved closer to finishing with the worst record in team history.

The 1984 Vikings went 3-13 under Les Steckel.

The Vikings will play at Washington next Saturday and then close the regular season on Jan. 1 at home against the Chicago Bears.

Ponder, who had five picks in the past two games, threw his only interception of the day on the final play of the game.

The skinny

Ryan Longwell connected on a 44-yard field goal on the Vikings' opening possession after New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham fumbled near midfield following a reception.

Safety Jamarca Sanford forced the fumble and Mistral Raymond recovered. Raymond took the ball to the Saints 26-yard line but the Vikings drive quickly stalled.

New Orleans took a 7-3 lead with 2:51 left in the first quarter when Drew Brees found Lance Moore on a 5-yard touchdown pass. That completed a drive of 5:36 that began at the New Orleans 16.

Brees had found Robert Meachem on what appeared to be a 40-yard touchdown pass earlier in the drive but that was wiped out by a holding call on fullback Jed Collins.

The Saints had a key miscue early in the second quarter when center Brian De La Puente snapped the ball as Brees was still calling signals. The ball flew past the quarterback and was recovered by defensive end Everson Griffen at the Saints 21.

The Vikings proceeded to lose 10 yards on the next three plays before Longwell kicked a 49-yard field goal to pull his team within a point.

The Saints quickly increased their lead.

New Orleans, which took over at its own 20-yard line, got a big gain when Brees found Darren Sproles on a short pass and the running back put a move on safety Mistral Raymond near midfield and went 39 yards before being pushed out of bounds by safety Jamarca Sanford.

Sanford was called for unnecessary roughness on the play, moving the ball to the Vikings 12-yard line. Back-to-back penalties on the Saints pushed the ball back to the Vikings 27, but Brees got that back with a pass down the middle for Marques Colston in the end zone.

Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson was called for interference and on the next play Brees threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Graham.

The Vikings bounced right back and Ponder's shovel pass to Toby Gerhart went for a 10-yard touchdown to cut the Saints lead to 14-13. Peterson had the big run of the drive with a 39-yard gain to move the ball to the New Orleans 13.

New Orleans' offense continued to move with ease, however, and Brees capped a 13-play, 76-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Sproles. Brees also had completions of 22 and 11 yards to Moore during the series.

The Vikings offense did nothing with the opening drive of the third quarter and the Saints got good field position when Sproles returned Chris Kluwe's punt 22 yards to the Vikings 44-yard line.

It took the Saints only four plays to get into the end zone, with Brees completing an 18-yard pass to Graham and then 6- and 18-yarders to Sproles. That put the ball at the Vikings 2 and John Gilmore caught a Brees pass for a touchdown to make it 28-13.

The Saints continued to pile it on in the third quarter.

On third-and-4 from the Vikings 47-yard line, Brees found Moore. The wide receiver put a move on Sanford around the Vikings 29 and raced into the end zone untouched.

Running back Pierre Thomas made it 42-13 with 12:50 left in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard run. That completed a drive that took 10:36. Sproles appeared to get into the end zone on the previous play but the touchdown call was overturned after a replay review.

Turning point

The Vikings could have gained some momentum from Graham's fumble but that did not happen as the Saints defense held the Vikings to a field goal.

New Orleans then moved down the field for the 5-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Moore and the Saints never trailed again.

Numbers game

9: Games the Vikings have gone without an interception, a record in the modern-day NFL. That dates to 1970 when the NFL and AFL merged.

247: Brees' passing yards in the opening half.

7: Ponder's net pass yards in the opening half.

309: Total net yards for the Saints in the first half.

90: Total nets yards for the Vikings in the first half.

486: The most passing yards against the Vikings in a single game. That happened on Nov. 16, 1980 against Doug Williams of Tampa Bay in a 38-30 victory over the Buccaneers at Metropolitan Stadium.

Health watch

• Peterson returned after sitting out three games because of a high left ankle sprain.

• Cornerback Asher Allen left the game in the first quarter because of concussion-like symptoms and did not return.

• Offensive tackle Pat Brown suffered a shoulder injury in the second quarter as the Saints attempted an onside kick.

• Safety Jarrad Page injured his hamstring.

 • Left guard Steve Hutchinson suffered a "facial laceration" early in the third quarter and was replaced by Joe Berger.

Odds and ends

• Rookie Brandon Burton started in place of Cedric Griffin at right cornerback. Griffin was benched last week against Detroit after Titus Young went right past him on a 57-yard touchdown reception. Griffin underwent ACL surgery on both knees in the past two years and has struggled all season.

Benny Sapp had been listed as the starter for Griffin but did not check in until two plays had been run.

• The Vikings inactives included cornerback Chris Cook; safety Andrew Sendejo; linebacker Xavier Adibi; center Brandon Fusco; offensive tackle DeMarcus Love; tight end Allen Reisner; and defensive D'Aundre Reed.

SCORING PLAYS

First Quarter

Vikings: Ryan Longwell 44-yard field goal, 12:20. Drive: 4 plays, 0 yards, 1:20. Vikings 3, Saints 0

Saints: Lance Moore 5-yard pass from Drew Brees, 2:51. John Kasay kick. Drive: 10-84-5:36. Saints 7, Vikings 3

Second Quarter

Vikings: Longwell 49-yard field goal, 13:13. Drive: 4-minus 10 yards-1:09. Saints 7, Vikings 6

Saints: Jimmy Graham 1-yard pass from Brees, 10:04. Kasay kick. Drive: 5-80-3:09. Saints 14, Vikings 6

Vikings: Toby Gerhart 10-yard pass from Ponder, 6:59. Longwell kick. Drive: 6-61-3:05. Saints 14, Vikings 13

Saints: Darren Sproles 13-yard pass from Brees, 1:33. Kasay kick. Drive: 13-76-5:26. Saints 21, Vikings 13

Third Quarter

Saints: John Gilmore 2-yard pass from Brees, 12:15. Kasay kick. Drive: 4-44-1:44. Saints 28, Vikings 13

Saints: Moore 47-yard pass from Brees, 10:18. Kasay kick. Drive: 3-53-0:56. Saints 35, Vikings 13

Fourth Quarter

Saints: Pierre Thomas 1-yard run, 12:50. Kasay kick. Drive: 19-87-10:36. Saints 42, Vikings 13

Vikings: Gerhart 16-yard pass from Ponder, 5:12. Longwell kick. Drive: 6-60-2:13. Saints 42, Vikings 20

Coming up

The Vikings will play their final road game of the season on Saturday when they face the Redskins in Washington.

The Vikings are 9-11 all-time against the Redskins.

The Vikings beat the Redskins 17-13 on Nov. 28 of last season in Leslie Frazier's first game as a head coach. Frazier had replaced Brad Childress, who was fired after a 31-3 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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