Saints 42

(11-3, 5-3 away)

Vikings 20

(2-12, 1-6 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, December 18, 2011

Mall of America Field, Minneapolis, MN 

1 2 3 4 T
NO 7 14 14 742
MIN 3 10 0 720

Top Performers

Passing: D. Brees (NO) - 412 YDS, 5 TD

Rushing: C. Ivory (NO) - 18 CAR, 74 YDS

Receiving: L. Moore (NO) - 5 REC, 91 YDS, 2 TD

Drew Brees throws for 412 yards, 5 TDs to inch closer to Dan Marino's record

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- The way Drew Brees is playing as the heart and soul of the New Orleans Saints, nothing is safe.

Not Dan Marino's single-season passing record, not Aaron Rodgers' presumed MVP award, and perhaps not even the label for best team in the NFC.

Brees threw for 412 yards and five touchdowns to lead the surging Saints to their sixth win in a row, 42-20 over the free-falling Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

"I'd definitely vote him MVP," Saints guard Carl Nicks said. "But I don't think what I say goes and I'm definitely biased, but he's not going to get it. This is the year of the quarterback, him, Rodgers, (Tom) Brady. He might break the yardage record and Rodgers might break the touchdowns record. What do you value more?"

The answer is clear in the Big Easy.

Brees completed 32 of 40 passes to help the Saints (11-3) overcome a slow and sloppy start to stay two games ahead of Atlanta in the NFC South. They turned the ball over twice deep in their own territory in the first half, botched a surprise onside kick and had a 40-yard TD pass called back because of a penalty.

But Brees threw two touchdowns to Lance Moore and one each to Darren Sproles, John Gilmore and Jimmy Graham in just over three quarters of work to keep the Saints steamrolling toward another NFC South title.

The 412 yards gives Brees 4,780 yards for the season, putting him 304 away from Marino's single season record set in 1984 with two games to play.

"I'm aware that we're close," Brees said of Marino's hallowed mark. "I just know if we keep doing what we're doing all of that stuff will take care of itself."

He also has already set a career high with 37 TD passes and on Sunday became the first player in league history to throw for more than 400 with five TDs, and complete 80 percent of his passes with no interceptions in a game.

"I'm as comfortable now in this offense as I've ever been," said Brees, who led the Saints to a Super Bowl win in 2009.

The much-maligned Saints secondary held the Vikings to 102 net yards passing and sacked rookie Christian Ponder four times.

Ponder completed 14 of 31 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns to Toby Gerhart, but most of that production came in the final six minutes of garbage time.

The Saints outgained the Vikings 573-207 and Brees had his fifth TD pass and was out of the game before Ponder had his fifth completion.

Adrian Peterson rushed for 60 yards in his return from a three-game absence, but the Vikings dropped their sixth straight game. Their depleted secondary lost cornerback Asher Allen to a concussion in the first half and they had no chance once Brees and the Saints got rolling.

"You can break down every player -- good, bad or ugly -- but we just aren't good enough as a team, as a group," Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway said.

The Saints stumbled out of the gates, with Graham fumbling a first-down catch, Sproles dropping what would have been another first down and Robert Meachem's 40-yard touchdown catch wiped out because of a holding call on fullback Jed Collins.

After Brees hit Moore for a 5-yard touchdown, the Saints turned the ball over again when Brees wasn't ready for a shotgun snap from Brian De La Puente that squirted right past him. Everson Griffen scooped the ball up and gave the Vikings great field position at the New Orleans 21.

The Vikings only went backward, settling for a 49-yard field goal to make it 7-6. Brees threw a 1-yard fade to Graham for a touchdown midway through the second quarter, but coach Sean Payton's decision to try a surprise onside kick backfired and let the Vikings back in the game.

Griffen recovered the kick to give Minnesota good field position, Peterson ripped off a 39-yard run and Gerhart scored on a 10-yard shovel pass to make it 14-13, breathing a little life into a stale Metrodome crowd.

"We were shooting ourselves in the foot," said Saints left tackle Jermon Bushrod, who held Jared Allen without a sack. "We had to lean on the defense to get us out of some jams."

After losing to the lowly St. Louis Rams on Oct. 30, the Saints weren't about to drop another one to an overmatched opponent with the second seed in the NFC playoffs on the line.

Brees put his foot on the gas and didn't let up.

He threw a 13-yard touchdown to Sproles toward the end of the first half, then started the third quarter with a 2-yard TD to Gilmore and hooked up with Moore on a 47-yard score.

"Not the missed assignments this time," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said about his defense's struggles. "Just a very good quarterback. If you give him time, you'll have problems."

Game notes

Brees went over 40,000 yards passing for his career and became the first QB to top 350 yards passing in a game seven times in a season. ... Moore had five catches for 91 yards, Marques Colston had eight catches for 91 yards and Graham had seven catches for 70 yards. ... Saints CB Patrick Robinson intercepted Ponder on the last play of the game. ... Vikings CB Benny Sapp was benched for the first two plays of the game for disciplinary reasons.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs3612
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays7954
Total Yards573207
Yards per play7.33.8
Total Drives1212
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)5-52-2
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

minFG12:24Ryan Longwell 44 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 4 plays, 0 yds, 1:20
noTD2:55Lance Moore 5 Yard Pass From Drew Brees (John Kasay Kick is Good)
Drive info: 10 plays, 84 yds, 5:36
minFG13:18Ryan Longwell 49 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 4 plays, -10 yds, 1:05
noTD10:08Jimmy Graham 1 Yard Pass From Drew Brees (John Kasay Kick is Good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 80 yds, 3:09
minTD7:04Toby Gerhart 10 Yard Pass From Christian Ponder (Ryan Longwell Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 61 yds, 3:05
noTD1:38Darren Sproles 13 Yard Pass From Drew Brees (John Kasay Kick is Good)
Drive info: 13 plays, 76 yds, 5:26
noTD12:19John Gilmore 2 Yard Pass From Drew Brees (John Kasay Kick is Good)
Drive info: 4 plays, 44 yds, 1:44
noTD10:29Lance Moore 47 Yard Pass From Drew Brees (John Kasay Kick is Good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 53 yds, 0:56
noTD12:53Pierre Thomas 1 Yard Run (John Kasay Kick is Good)
Drive info: 19 plays, 87 yds, 10:36
minTD5:19Toby Gerhart 16 Yard Pass From Christian Ponder (Ryan Longwell Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 60 yds, 2:13

Research Notes

Drew Brees completed 21-of-23 passes for 339 yards and four touchdowns when targeting receivers between the painted numbers Sunday. Brees has been nearly unstoppable over the middle in his last three games. During that time Brees has completed 59-of-67 passes (88.1%) for 821 yards (12.3 yds/att) with eight touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Drew Brees completed 32 of 40 passes today for 412 yards and 5 passing touchdowns. He is the first player in NFL history to throw for 400 yards and five touchdowns in a game while completing 80 percent of his passes.
Drew Brees completed 32 of 40 passes today for 412 yards and 5 passing touchdowns. He is the first NFL player since 1960 to throw for 400 yards and five touchdowns in a game while completing 80 percent of his passes.
Drew Brees now has 7 400-yard passing games in his career. That's tied with Warren Moon and Joe Montana for 3rd-most in NFL history. Only Dan Marino (13) and Peyton Manning (8) have more.
From Elias: Drew Brees has 5 Pass TD so far. He has 6 career games with at least 5 Pass TD which ties the NFL record for the most games with 5 Pass TD with Peyton Manning and Dan Marino.
Drew Brees: 3rd TD pass of game gave him 35, setting the Saints single-season record for TD passes, breaking the mark of 34 he set in 2008 and matched in 2009.
Jimmy Graham scores his 9th Rec TD of the season. That ties the Saints single-season record for TD by a TE set previously by Henry Childs, who had 9 in 1977.

ESPN Stats & Information