The Vikings were trailing only 21-13 at the half, but they were already being dominated in yardage at that point. It only got worse as the third quarter progressed.
The Saints dominated just about every statistical category Sunday. New Orleans had a whopping 36 first downs, as opposed to just 12 for the Vikings – with seven of those coming in the fourth quarter.
The Saints piled up 573 total yards (412 passing, 161 rushing) on 79 plays, while the Vikings managed just 207 yards (105 rushing, 102 passing) on 54 plays.
Beyond, the team statistics dominated by the Saints, there were plenty of other notes from the game.
had just 10 carries for 60 yards in his return to action after missing three games with a high ankle sprain. Peterson, who proclaimed himself ready to play early in the week, said he couldn't figure out why he was used so sparingly, saying, "I don't know how to explain 10 carries. I don't know. I was ready to roll. I just try to do my job when called upon."
Peterson had six carries for 51 yards in the first half, but just four carries for nine yards in the second half.
With three catches Sunday, Percy Harvin set a career high for receptions with 72.
Jim Kleinsasser set a new Vikings record for most games started at tight end with his 179th start, moving him past Steve Jordan into first place on the all-time games started list.
Despite an injury-depleted secondary, cornerback Cedric Griffin wasn't used on defense. His only action Sunday came on special teams.
The Saints didn't have any receivers top 100 yards, but had four with 70 or more receiving yards and two – Marques Colston and Lance Moore – with 91 each.
Darren Sproles was huge Sunday, catching five passes for 79 yards, rushing eight times for 33 yards, returning three kickoffs for 75 yards and bringing back three punts for 45 yards.
Saints punter Thomas Morstead hit a 51-yard punt less than four minutes into the game. He wouldn't punt again the rest of the way. He improved his league lead in touchbacks with five Sunday, giving him 55 for the season.
The Vikings set an NFL record with their ninth straight game without an interception. The team hasn't had a pick since it intercepted three passes against Arizona Oct. 9.
Following a sack with 12:30 to play in the fourth quarter, the Vikings had zero net passing yards, while the Saints had 412.
The Saints dominance wasn't as evident on the scoreboard at halftime (they led 21-13), but it was on the stat sheet, as they outgained the Vikings 309-90.
Steve Hutchinson suffered a facial cut in the third quarter and, after going to the locker room to get stitched up, he returned in the fourth quarter but didn't finish the game.
After scoring a touchdown to take a 14-6 lead, the Saints called an onside kick that was perfectly executed, but two Saints failed to cover the ball. The Vikings would recover on their own 39-yard line and, thanks to a 39-yard run from Peterson, the Vikings scored a touchdown to cut the Saints lead to 14-13 midway through the second quarter.
In one of the stranger plays this year, early in the second quarter, Brees was calling an audible that center Brian De La Puente didn't pick up on. He snapped the ball with Brees barking out the call to his receivers from the shotgun and Everson Griffen scooped up the loose ball. The Vikings offense sputtered after recovering the fumble, but turned it into a field goal to cut the New Orleans lead to 7-6 two minutes into the second quarter.
Asher Allen left the game in the first quarter with concussion-like symptoms. He didn't return.
Perhaps nobody in the league spreads the ball around more than Brees. His nine completions in the first quarter Sunday went to eight different receivers.
The Saints were slow out of the gate in the first quarter. Their first two drives ended up in three-play drives – the first ending on a fumble by Jimmy Graham that led to the Vikings scoring the game's first points and the second ending in a three-and-out. But, as you could imagine, Brees would warm up quickly.
The paid attendance was 62,623, the 143rd straight sellout at the Metrodome.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.