NEW ORLEANS (AP) -Brad Childress chuckled at the mention of Drew Brees' prolific start to the season.
``I go a long way back competing against Drew Brees,'' the Minnesota Vikings coach said.
The year was 1998. Childress was an assistant coach at Wisconsin. Brees was the quarterback at Big 10 rival Purdue.
When the Badgers hosted the Boilermakers on a temperate October night, Brees attempted a college record 83 passes, completing 55 of them for 494 yards and two touchdowns. However, Brees also threw four interceptions - he insists to this day one was a bad call on a trap - and Wisconsin won 31-24.
``They didn't win the game that day,'' Childress said, ``but he's just a great competitor.''
Brees, who will face Childress again when the Saints (2-2) host the Vikings (1-3) on Monday night in the Louisiana Superdome, remembers that game at Wisconsin well. He was able to recall his statistical line from memory before noting that Purdue ``got hosed'' on the last interception and lamented that the case might have been different if college football had video replay reviews back then.
``Otherwise, it would have been a touchdown for us - eventually - tied the game, overtime, and then there might have been 100 attempts.''
Brees is 107-of-148 passing this season for a league-high 1,343 yards with eight touchdowns and four interceptions. He is on pace to become only the fifth quarterback in NFL history to eclipse 4,000 yards passing in three straight seasons.
Marques Colston, the Saints best receiver the previous two seasons, has been out since Week 1 with a thumb injury. Tight end Jeremy Shockey, who was the Saints' second-leading receiver through the first three games, missed last weekend's 31-17 victory over the 49ers after having sports hernia surgery and, like Colston, is not expected back for another few weeks.
None of that has stopped Brees, who last week said he had confidence that young reserves Lance Moore and Robert Meachem would do fine against San Francisco, then found Moore for 101 yards and 2 TDs and Meachem for 99 yards and a touchdown.
After that performance Brees was named the NFC offensive player of the month for September.
r laurels by any means.''
Minnesota has designs on making the playoffs this season, but has gotten off to a choppy start, highlighted by a change at quarterback from Tavaris Jackson to 37-year-old journeyman Gus Frerotte.
Frerotte lost his first start against Tennessee last weekend, 30-17, but Childress said he plans to stick with the veteran this week, hoping that the younger Jackson will benefit from the move in the long run.
``It's not a death knell for (Jackson). It's just a step back,'' Childress said. ``There's no right or wrong way to raise a quarterback in this league. ... He can take a step back and be an aide to Gus. Gus is coming in here and lending that experience and steady hand.''
If things go well for the Vikings, Frerotte won't have to throw a lot anyway. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is the league's second-leading rusher with 420 yards. He'll be facing a Saints defense that has done well limiting teams to field goals instead of touchdowns, but still has given up an average of 372 yards per game, including 123 on the ground.
``We're definitely confident. That's not an issue at all,'' Peterson said. ``The main thing is we have to start being ourselves. Look at the three games we have lost. There are small things we could have done better to win the game. ... Last week, we had three fumbles and four turnovers. Mainly we've shot ourselves in the foot.''
The Saints, meanwhile, hope to have a power rushing attack of their own now that Deuce McAllister is back. After watching McAllister gain 73 yards rushing with a touchdown last week, Childress said he did not see any evidence that the Saints' all-time rusher has been significantly slowed by his two knee surgeries in the previous three seasons.
Childress added that Minnesota's priority on defense needs to be limiting the rushing tandem of McAllister and Reggie Bush, and then worry about Brees, no matter how good Brees has been to this point.
``Never, ever, has a defensive coordinator said, 'I'll tell you what we're going to do. We're going to make them one dimensional. We're going to stop the pass and let them run it everywhere and we'll be in great shape,'' Childress said. ``Everybody I've heard of, it's stop the run and let them beat us with the pass.''
Then Childress reflected back to that Wisconsin victory over Purdue 10 years ago.
``Eighty-three times,'' he said, as if thinking aloud. ``I'd like to think we'd have some opportunities if he throws it 83.''

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