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Zimmer, Vikings Describe Challenges of Facing Drew Brees

EAGAN, Minn. – The Vikings know they'll have their hands full against a talented quarterback on Sunday Night Football.

Drew Brees, who earlier this month set the NFL record for passing yards, will make his 256th career start when he takes on Minnesota at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Brees will turn 40 in January but is still putting up big numbers in his 18th NFL season.

Through seven games, Brees is 170-of-220 passing (77.3 percent) for 1,870 yards, 13 touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating is 121.6, which is on pace to be a career high.

Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, who has a high level of admiration for Brees, said there isn't one thing to pinpoint about Brees' game that makes him so dangerous.

"If it was one thing, he wouldn't be the Hall of Famer he is," Cousins said. "He doesn't take sacks, he protects the football, throws for a lot of yards, a lot of touchdowns, he's good on third downs, has stayed healthy, he's got durability. That's why he's Drew Brees; it's not one thing. The whole point of him being Drew is you can't name just one thing."

Vikings Head Coach Zimmer said it's difficult to prepare defensively for Brees, who has led the Saints on a five-game win streak entering Sunday's game.

Zimmer called the quarterback "amazing" and echoed that he expects Brees to be a Hall of Famer.

"He's very cerebral, accurate. He's moving well in the pocket," Zimmer said. "I was watching tape … and I thought, 'How old is this guy? I thought he was getting old.' "

"He's not really a runner, but he scrambles and usually to find guys open, and he knows where to go with the football, he's extremely accurate," Zimmer added.

Zimmer is 2-1 against the Saints since taking over with the Vikings in 2014. In those three games, Brees has passed for 293, 291 and 294 yards, respectively, and has totaled six touchdowns and two interceptions. The Vikings defense has sacked Brees just four times over that period.

Brees has proven especially lethal in late-game situations, having led his teams on 33 fourth-quarter comebacks and 47 game-winning drives. He's logged three such games already this season against the Browns, Falcons and Ravens.

Minnesota nearly fell victim to a Brees-orchestrated comeback during the Divisional Round playoff game in January, but the Minneapolis Miracle advanced the Vikings to the NFC Championship game.

Zimmer said that Brees is a "great competitor" and gets a better feel of each defense throughout the course of the game.

"A guy like him who has seen everything … can kind of decipher things quickly on the move," Zimmer said. "I think that's part of it, and he's got good players, too."

Vikings safety Harrison Smith said that Minnesota's secondary doesn't necessarily need to play "differently" against Brees, but the quarterback certainly makes it difficult for defensive backs to make big plays.

"He's just really good, so he makes it hard," Smith said. "He knows where to put the ball, and he has the skill to do it. You just have to play tight coverage.

"There's plenty of guys with big arms, but him being able to get it out quick, know where to put it and put it where it's hard for the defender to get to it – there's a reason he's the all-time leader in pass yards," Smith added.

Zimmer's defense will no doubt need to be on its game Sunday night when Brees hits the turf of U.S. Bank Stadium for the third time in just over a year.

The stats are still there for Brees, but is he at least showing any signs of slowing down?

"No. He should retire, too," Zimmer quipped.

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