In the first of the 256 games that will make up pro football's regular season, the Saints opened their title defense by shutting out Brett Favre and the Vikings during the second half.
The game was a rematch of last season's NFC Championship contest, which the Saints won in overtime to reach their first Super Bowl, where they knocked off Indianapolis 31-17.
New Orleans trailed at halftime 9-7, but drove 74 yards in 11 plays the first time it had the ball in the third quarter. Brees was 3-of-3 for 38 yards on the march and Pierre Thomas scored what proved to be the winning touchdown on a 1-yard run.
The Saints scored the first time they had the ball in the first half, driving 77 yards in five plays with Brees hitting Devery Henderson on a 29-yard touchdown throw.
Minnesota reached the New Orleans 43-yard line midway through the fourth quarter but eventually punted on fourth-and-11 with 5:40 to go. The Vikings never got the ball back, allowing the Saints to convert two third downs while running all the remaining time off the clock.
Ryan Longwell produced Minnesota's first points on a 41-yard field goal early in the second quarter and Favre, beginning his 20th NFL season, hit Visanthe Shiancoe with a 20-yard scoring pass with 34 seconds left in the first half. The extra point attempt by Longwell was blocked.
Brees completed 27-of-36 passes and was not intercepted. Favre was 15-of-27 for 171 yards and an interception. Adrian Peterson carried 19 times for the Vikings, gaining 87 yards.