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Vikings Defense Limits Brees, Saints in Victory

MINNEAPOLIS — Saints quarterback Drew Brees is likely to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer with the gaudy numbers he's put up in his career.

Brees currently ranks third all-time in touchdown passes and passing yards, so his stat line Monday night was no surprise. 

The quarterback had nearly 300 yards passing, a touchdown, no interceptions and a passer rating over 100. But Minnesota's defense will count that as a win considering the Vikings walked out of U.S. Bank Stadium with a 29-19 victory.

"Plays are going to happen," said Vikings safety Harrison Smith. "You're going to give up some things every now and then, and you just have to bounce back.

"That's what we were able to do tonight," Smith said. "But we can make even more. That's what we want to do, and progress."

Added Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr: "The best player on our defense is our defense, all 11 guys, when we show up and play hard, we're tough to beat."

Minnesota's defense knew the importance of stopping the run first before turning their attention to Brees.

The Vikings did just that as they limited the Saints to just 60 rushing yards on 21 carries.

Adrian Peterson and Alvin Kamara each finished with 18 rushing yards, and Mark Ingram totaled 17.

"It felt great. We were all communicating well," said Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks. "We knew it wasn't going to be easy, we know that there were going to be looks we didn't go over, but the important thing was eliminating the big play, keeping everything in front of us, rallying to the ball and making tackles." 

New Orleans was just 4-for-11 on third downs, a conversion rate of just 36 percent.

Vikings defensive end Brian Robison said the third-down stops slowly invigorated Minnesota's defense.

"I don't know if we necessarily felt like it was taking the life out of them, but we were definitely putting the pressure on them," Robison said. "I think Drew Brees was having to get the ball out of his hands before he really wanted to.

"We blitzed well and were able to rush with our front four pretty well tonight," Robison added. "Those are things that we just have to build on and keep getting better at."

After facing a Saints offense that ranked second in scoring offense in 2016, the Vikings will now turn their attention to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

View game action images as the Vikings take on the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Pittsburgh ranked seventh in yards per game in 2016 and tied for 10th in points per game.

After a successful opener against Brees and the Saints, Minnesota's defense knows it's time to get back to work.

"They all count as one [win]," Smith said. "Obviously we're all very happy that we came into our house, home opener, and got the win.

"But as we all know, it's one. It's one of 16 right now," Smith added. "So enjoy it and get ready to move on to next week."

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