Figure this one out: at halftime here at Mall of America Field, the Saints’ offense is dominating the Vikings’ in terms of overall production. Yet on the scoreboard, New Orleans’ 21-13 lead isn’t quite as large as it seems it should be.
The eye-opening first half offensive numbers show the Saints with a 309-90 advantage in total yardage and with 16 more first downs (20-4) as well. Drew Brees is locked in (20-for-24, 247 yards, three touchdowns) is locked in. Christian Ponder (4-for-8, 18 yards, one TD) is not.
Still, the Vikings somehow remain within striking distance and will receive the second half kickoff.
The Saints, clearly in the holiday spirit, gift-wrapped six points for the Vikings early. A Jimmy Graham fumble on New Orleans’ opening possession set the Vikings up for a zero-yard scoring drive that ended with a 44-yard Ryan Longwell field goal. Later, an errant snap by Brian De La Fuente over the left shoulder of Drew Brees set the Vikings up with possession at the Saints 21. Despite losing 10 yards on the ensuing drive, the Vikings turned that takeaway into three more points with Longwell connecting from 49 yards out.
The Vikings’ touchdown drive, a 61-yard march highlighted by Adrian Peterson’s 39-yard run and a 10-yard shovel pass touchdown by Toby Gerhart, came after New Orleans tried an onside kick.
Still, a second-half rally will be challenging if the Vikings defense doesn’t find a way to disrupt Brees, who hit Lance Moore, Graham and Darren Sproles with touchdown tosses in the first half. Brees has now thrown a touchdown pass in 41 consecutive games and is just 119 yards shy of reaching 40,000 for his career.