Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs has been part of some of the franchise’s best defenses.
That’s why he was almost at a loss for words following a 24-16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, who ran for 169 yards.
This was the week Baltimore’s run defense was supposed to play much better with defensive tackle Brandon Williams back in the lineup. Instead, some of the same struggles surfaced again as the Ravens lost for the fourth time in five games, falling to 3-4 on the year.
This is a disturbing trend for a franchise that prides itself on being a dominant defense. Following the game against Minnesota, the Ravens run defense ranked last in the NFL with 1,017 yards allowed, according to stats compiled by ESPN.
It’s a far cry from the “Baltimore Bullies” of years past.
“It’s disappointing, and extremely frustrating,” Suggs said. “The team is built around defense, it’s just disappointing. We are not playing good football right now. I don’t really have any answers for you. Defensively? Yeah, defensively we are not playing really good football. I read something one of you wrote, that we are 30th against the run. 15 years of me being here, we have never been that low.
“I think we gave up two back-to-back 100-yard rushing games. For me, being the veteran on the defense, I take more of the blame for that than anything because I know how we are supposed to play.”
The Vikings’ offensive line did a solid job creating holes for Latavius Murray, who led the way with 113 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Minnesota appeared to wear the Ravens down in the second half. Baltimore’s defensive linemen also struggled to get off blocks.
The Ravens do have playmakers on defense, so there is hope that unit can improve. The offense is a completely different story and there doesn’t appear to be much hope for a turnaround.
When Murray ran for a 29-yard score in the third quarter that gave Minnesota a commanding 18-6 lead, the game was out of reach for the Ravens, who are not built to play from behind.
The offensive line has been ravaged with injuries. The team had to play against Minnesota without its top three receivers — Jeremy Maclin (shoulder) and Breshad Perriman (concussion) were inactive and Mike Wallace suffered a potential concussion following a hard hit by Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo in the first quarter.
While much of the blame falls on quarterback Joe Flacco, there is only so much he can do with the talent around him.
Flacco was 27 of 39 for 186 yards with a touchdown and did not have an interception. However, he was sacked five times and there is growing concern over whether he’ll make it through the season with the pounding he has taken.
Flacco has remained stoic throughout the turmoil. But the season is slipping away.
“We have to keep our heads up and play one game at a time,” Flacco said. “This is where we are right now and there’s nothing we can do to go back in time to change it at this point. We work hard. We are in the building 24/7 trying to get everything as good as it can be, so we will continue to do that.”
There is no quit with the Ravens, who vow each week to continue fighting. Still, is there enough talent to make a difference?