Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
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MINNEAPOLIS ― For the past month, the Saints’ secondary has listened to questions about giving up large chunks of yards in the passing game.
On Sunday, after a 42-20 win over the Vikings, those questions were no longer necessary.
New Orleans (11-3) held rookie quarterback Christian Ponder to 14 of 31 for 120 yards and an interception to go with a 63.9 rating. One of his two touchdowns came when the game was well in hand and backups were playing.
“It was a main emphasis all week, just limit these guys on deep throws, don’t let anything over the top of our head because without that, they had no chance,” Saints safety Roman Harper said. “We knew that.”
The Vikings didn’t have a pass play longer than 16 yards in the game.
And heading into the fourth quarter, Minnesota had minus-1 net passing yards.
With the Saints’ four sacks included, the Vikings compiled only102 net passing yards.
Middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma said it wasn’t so much anything the Saints did differently as much as it was doing what they were supposed to be doing.
“Attention to detail, understanding things that can beat us in the game – that’s really all that changed,” Vilma said. “I think we really focused on that.”
Minnesota averaged only 2.8 yards per pass play and was only 4 of 14 on third down.
“You have to give credit to what they were doing,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. “It wasn’t rocket science what they were doing. They were bringing five and allowing us to get some one-on-one situations and play some cover two with the safety inverted.
“Nothing we haven’t seen, they just did a better job at making plays and really creating some mismatches in our interior line and that really put pressure on our quarterback and we just didn’t handle it well.”