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Stopping Shorter Brees is 1 of NFL's Taller Orders

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter didn't rack up a combined 20.5 sacks in 2017 based on talent alone.

The two most productive Vikings defensive ends also relied on technique and effort to get to the quarterback. It'll be the latter trait that is important Monday night against New Orleans.

Griffen and Hunter both spoke to the media Thursday about Saints quarterback Drew Brees. The goal, the duo said, is to simply be relentless on every snap inside U.S. Bank Stadium.

"This game is about the details," said Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen. "We can't get frustrated in our rush. We have to rush him and keep rushing him."

Added Hunter: "Just keep going. That's the one thing about rushing, you can never get too frustrated … you just have to keep rushing."

It's been tough for defenses to frustrate Brees over the years. It's usually the other way around. Brees again put up prolific numbers in 2016.

Brees threw for a league-high 5,208 yards last season to go along with 37 touchdown passes while completing 70 percent of his passes.

It was just another season for Brees, who is the only quarterback in NFL history to amass five seasons of at least 5,000 passing yards, a mark that no other quarterback has hit twice. He also led the league in passing yards for a record seventh time.

Add it all up, and Brees ranks third in NFL history with 66,111 passing yards and 465 touchdown passes.

"He's awfully good, he's really good," said Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. "Extremely accurate, I think one of the things, he's got an unbelievable arm, too.

"One of the things that sets him apart, I think, is he's so quick getting rid of the football, knowing where to go to the different spots," Zimmer added. "He really is a Hall of Fame-kind of quarterback. Obviously, one of the best in the NFL and one of the best that's ever played."

Zimmer and multiple Vikings players touched on Brees' quick release and accuracy. Even if the quarterback holds onto the ball long enough for Minnesota's pass rush to get there, Brees seemingly always finds a way to fit his passes into tight windows.

"If he doesn't pull the ball down, if you don't make him pull the ball down, he's going to get it out, and he's not going to get sacked," Zimmer said. "He is really hard to fool. He's seen so many different things. He's a great competitor.

"Part of it is just doing what we do. Will we change up some? Sure. So will they," Zimmer added. "They try to keep you off balance, we'll try to keep them off balance and we'll go to work."

Hunter said: "It's knowing where your guys are going to be, that's basically something older and more experienced quarterbacks know. They throw the ball where their receivers are going to be."

Brees, who is listed at 6-foot and 209 pounds, was sacked 27 times in 2016, as New Orleans offensive line ranked fifth in the league in sacks per pass attempt at 4.01 percent.

The Vikings know it will be all hands on deck to bother one of the game's top signal callers. 

"We've got to rush as a team. For the d-line, be prepared. Guys know we've got to stay in our lanes," said Vikings defensive tackle Tom Johnson, a teammate of Brees from 2011-13. "He's a shorter guy, so get our hands up, get him flustered, and our back end is going to do their job, so hopefully make him flustered and make him make throws that he's not comfortable making. 

"Drew is going to be prepared. He can make every throw. He's going to be looking for openings, but we can't get flustered," Johnson added. "He's going to make throws, guys are going to catch balls. We've just got to rush as a unit, try to make him flustered and make him make throws that he doesn't want to make and capitalize on it."

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