QB Drew Brees' five touchdowns and 412 passing yards led the Saints to their sixth straight win with a 42-20 victory over the Vikings Sunday afternoon at Mall of America Field.
The win marks the third-straight season that the Saints have won at least 11 games, a first in team history.
After the score was 21-13 at halftime, the Saints went on a 21-0 run to open the second half before the Vikings scored in the final three minutes of the game.
"All these games are important and I was particularly pleased with how we played in the second half," said Head Coach Sean Payton. "We eliminated some of the things that were hurting us in the first. We had two turnovers that led the points for Minnesota. The penalties hurt but we cleaned those things up. "
The Saints compiled 573 net yards compared to the Vikings' 207.
Brees was pulled early in the fourth quarter after he completed 32 of 40 passes for 412 yds and 5 TDs for a (149.2 quarterback rating.
RB Chris Ivory led the Saints for the second straight week in rushing with 74 yards on 18 carries.
WR Lance Moore had his second two-score game of the season on five receptions for 91 yards. Moore has six scores over the last seven games.
WR Marques Colston compiled a game-high eight receptions for 91 yards. TE Jimmy Graham hauled in seven receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown.
RB Darren Sproles had 232 all-purpose yards and a 13-yard touchdown reception.
S Roman Harper and DB Jabari Greer tied for the team lead in combined tackles with 4. Harper, DE Junior Galette, DE Jeff Charleston and DT Tom Johnson each registered a sack.
The Saints started with the ball and their opening drive began on their 20-yard line.
RB Pierre Thomas rushed for ten yards on first play. After a screen pass to Sproles for no gain, Brees threw downfield to Graham who caught the ball at the 48 yards line, but fumbled it, where it was recovered by Minnesota safety Mistral Raymond, who returned it 26 yards to the Saints 26 yard line, before he was tackled by RB Pierre Thomas.
Minnesota handed off to RB Adrian Peterson, who was stopped by CB Greer after gaining one yard. CB Patrick Robinson then stopped Vikings WR Percy Harvin for a one yards loss. Following a pass play in the end zone, where Vikings QB Christian Ponder overthrew Harvin, Vikings K Ryan Longwell kicked a 44-yard field goal.
New Orleans started at their 20 again, where RB Ivory took the opening handoff of the drive for a four-yard gain before he was tackled by Vikings LB Erin Henderson and DB Brian Robison. Following a drop by Sproles on a pass play, Brees and Graham failed to connect on a pass in tight coverage sending the punt unit out where Thomas Morstead hit a 51 yard punt that Minnesota CB Marcus Sherels called for a fair catch at their 24-yard line.
Minnesota started with a completion for three yards from Ponder to Harvin. Peterson then ran up the middle for a first down with a gain of eight yards before he was stopped by DT Sedrick Ellis and LB Jonathan Vilma. Ponder had handed off to his bellcow again, but Vikings T Phil Loadholt was called for an illegal formation penalty, creating a first-and-15 situation. Harvin then took a screen pass and gained five yards before he was tackled by Ellis and Greer. On second down, Ponder scrambled for a six-yard gain before he was stopped by LB Scott Shanle.
On third and three, Vikings TE Visanthe Shiancoe was called for an offensive pass interference penalty, which was declined by New Orleans, sending the punt unit out. Vikings P Chris Kluwe punted to the New Orleans 16-yard line, where it was called for a fair catch by Sproles.
Brees first handed off to Ivory, who gained three yards before he was tackled by Vikings DT Remi Ayodele and Robison. On second down, Brees completed a throw to an open Robert Meachem for a 13-yard gain and New Orleans' first first down of the contest. The signal-caller then completed a pass to WR Devery Henderson for a gain of five yards where he was tackled by Vikings CB Asher Allen. Ivory then broke a tackle, advancing seven yards to the 42-yard line for the first down.
Sproles then took a carry for a gain of two yards, where he was stopped by Vikings LB Chad Greenway. After looking through several options on second-and-eight, Brees connected with Colston on a 16-yard throw up the middle, where he was tackled by Greenway and Sherels. Brees rolled out and threw long to Meachem in the end zone, but the potential touchdown was called back on a holding call assessed to FB Jed Collins.
Facing first and 20 at midfield, Brees began the process of getting chunks of yardage back by completing a ten-yard throw to Colston. A short pass was then completed to Thomas, who turned it into a gain of 25 yards with some nifty blocking from the left side of the offensive line. Thomas then carried to the five-yard line, setting up first and goal.
Moore then caught a fade route in the end zone to put the Saints up in the game and on the scoreboard.
The Vikings had starting position at their 20 and Ponder rushed 15 yards on a scramble for the first down. However, on the next play, Loadholt was called for a false start five-yard penalty.
Ponder then handed off to Vikings RB Toby Gerhart who gained back three of the yards before being tackled by LB Martez Wilson.
Backup QB Joe Webb then took a rush but was stopped out of bounds for a three-yard loss by DE Cameron Jordan. A screen attempt to Ponder was then ruled incomplete, sending Kluwe out who punted to the 30-yard line, where Sproles was tackled by LB Kenny Onatolu.
On first down, Brees threw downfield to Collins, who gained 12 yards in the final play of the first quarter. Following a three-yard rush by Sproles, a mishandled snap exchange between Brees and CB Brian de la Puente was recovered by Vikings DE Eversen Griffen and returned to the New Orlens 21-yard line.
Following an incomplete pass from Ponder intended for Vikings FB Jim Kleinsasser on first down, Peterson was stopped for a six-yard loss by Harper and then DE Charleston sacked Ponder for a loss of four yards, forcing Longwell to kick a 49-yard field goal.
Sproles took the ensuing kickoff out of the end zone to the 20-yard line. Ivory took the opening carry of the drive to the 27-yard line. A seven-yard pass from Brees to Colston converted the first down. Sproles thentook a handoff for a gain of one yard, before he was tripped up by Vikings DE Jared Allen.
On second-and-nine, Brees threw a short pass to Sproles who converted it in a gain of 39 yards with an addition 12 tacked on following a penalty on Vikings S Jamarca Sanford who tackled him out of bounds. However some of the progress was negated when G Carl Nicks was called for a holding penalty on the next play.
With New Orleans at the 22-yard line, T Jermon Bushrod was subsequently called for a false start penalty. On the next play though, Vikings CB Brandon Burton was called for a pass interference penalty in the end zone on Colston, giving the Saints the ball at the one, where Brees then completed a one-yard scoring pass to Graham on a fade route to put the Saints up by eight.
An onsides kick attempt was eventually recovered by Griffen at the Minnesota 39-yard line. Peterson took the opening handoff for an eight-yard gain before being tackled by DT Thom Johnson.
The running back then carried into a pile of Saints defenders for a one-yard gain before being dropped by Greer. Peterson then on the next play got open in the backfield for a run play of a 39 yard gain before he was tackled by S Malcolm Jenkins at the New Orleans 13. An option pass from Webb to Harvin was dropped by the wideout. Webb then took the ball from under snap and advanced it three yards before he was tackled by a group of New Orleans defenders. On third and seven, Ponder found Gerhart for a short pass and he rambled into the end zone untouched to score to put the Vikings within one.
Sproles had a 26-yard kickoff return to the 24-yard line. Thomas then took a carry for a gain of five yards before he was tackled by Sanford and Vikings DE Kevin Williams. Brees then connected with Graham on a pass play for a four-yard gain, just short of the first down marker. On third-and-one, Collins carried up the middle for a two-yard gain. Sproles would then rush for a three-yard gain and Brees would complete a pass to Moore for a gain of six yards before going out of bounds.
On third-and-one, Brees converted on a throw to Graham for a gain of five yards to the New Orleans 49-yard line. The Saints then moved into New Orleans territory on a 22-yard completion to Moore. Thomas then took a carry and was stopped for a loss of one, by Vikings LB E.J. Henderson.
A throw intended for Graham in the end zone was nearly taken down by the tight end with one hand. On third-and-11, Brees completed a throw to Moore for a gain of 12 yards, for the two-minute warning. Following the warning, Brees eluded the pressure of Allen, throwing an incomplete pass. On second down, Brees handed off to Thomas who moved New Orleans up the 13-yard line, where he would complete a 13-yard scoring pass to Sproles to give New Orleans an eight-point lead.
New Orleans would quickly force the Vikings to a three-and-out on the strength of a sack for a loss of seven yards by Galette. Before time expired in the first half, Brees completed a pair of passes to Colston for 11- and 25-yards.
After New Orleans forced a three-and-out to open the second half, Sproles returned the punt 22 yards to the Minnesota 44-yard line.
Brees then completed a pass to Graham for an 18-yard gain and the running back gained six yards. Following another pass to Sproles that resulted in an 18-yard gain, Brees completed a throw to TE John Gilmore for a two-yard touchdown. It was Gilmore's first scoring grab as a Saint and gave his team a 28-13 lead.
Another three and out was forced by the Saints with Sproles having a 24-yard run back to the Saints 47. Following a first down incomplete pass, Thomas ran to the Vikings 47 for a six-yard gain. On third down, Brees took advantage of outstanding protection by LT Jermon Bushrod to complete a crossing route to Moore for a 47-yard score.
Morstead booted a touchback into the end zone. On the first play, Ponder was sacked by S Roman Harper for a one-yard loss, but he was called for an unnessessary roughness penalty.
Ponder's next throw from the 34 was incomplete. Peterson then took a carry for nine yards, but then on a third-and-one play, Peterson was stopped for a five-yard loss by DE Will Smith, forcing the Vikings to punt where Sproles would call for a fair catch at the New Orleans 13.
The next drive started with a nine-yard pass from Brees to Meachem and then following a long incomplete attempt to the wideout, Brees converted the first down with a throw for a 11-yard gain to Colston. Brees kept and rushed for four yards and then Sproles took a carry up the middle for a two-yard gain. Thomas then took a screen pass for a gain of 16 yards, moving the chains again and putting them in Vikings territory.
Ivory took a subsequent handoff for a two-yard gain. Following a four-yard run by Meachem, Brees completed a seven-yard throw to Graham to move the chains to the 32. After an incomplete pass, Collins was called for a holding play on a run by Ivory, setting up second-and-20 from the 43.
A pass then went off the hands of Moore. On the next play, Vikings DT Fred Evans was called for an illegal hands to the face penalty, setting up first down at the 38. Colston then caught a ball for a four-yard gain before he was tackled by Griffen.
Ivory then eluded several tackles as he ran for a gain of six yards before he was stopped by E.J. Henderson, moving the chains once again. Brees completed a throw to Sproles, where he barreled over a Viking for a nine-yard gain. On the final play of the third quarter, de la Puente was called for a facemask penalty.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Brees eluded the pressure of several Vikings and completed a pass for a 17-yard gain to Graham for the first down. Thomas then carried for a seven-yard gain to the nine-yard line. Following a pass for a seven yard gain to Colston, Sproles ran for what appeared for a two-yard touchdown, but following an officials review, it was ruled that he was dropped one half a yard before the goal line. Thomas then took the carry for the touchdown.
The Vikings scored their only points of the second half on the game's final score when Ponder connected with Gerhart for a 16-yard touchdown with 5:19 left in the game.