MINNEAPOLIS — After suffering an overtime loss to the Bears last week, the Ravens looked to rebound and continue their success on the road with a trip to the new U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota. The results were not pretty, and the Ravens ended up losing their fourth game in five weeks, 24-16.

The Ravens came into their matchup against the Vikings with a handful of key players missing. Offensively, Joe Flacco has not played his best football this year. The road to improvement is not easy when the veteran signal-caller is missing all three starting wide receivers.

Jeremy Maclin and Breshad Perriman were both ruled out before the game. Mike Wallace found himself sidelined as well after suffering a nasty concussion in the first quarter.

With the offense down to its bare bones, the defense had to step up big time. With Brandon Williams making his return, the Ravens looked like they could accomplish that. The defensive lineman looked like his usual self in the early goings, racking up a couple of tackles. After giving up over 230 rushing yards against the Bears last week, Baltimore was hoping to see some major improvements when Williams returned but they still let the Vikings run the ball with ease. Minnesota racked up 169 rushing yards on Sunday, with Latavius Murray recording 113 of them.

By halftime, the kickers were responsible for all of the scoring. Kai Forbath nailed three field goals to give his team a 9-6 lead, but Justin Tucker hit two of his own, including one from 57 yards deep.

The Vikings added another field goal on their first drive of the second half and looked like they would soon take control of the low-scoring contest. Considering Minnesota had a 109-31 rushing yard advantage in the third quarter, it was surprising to see the Ravens only down by one possession.

However, the Vikings stuck with their game plan and continued to pound the ball on the ground while picking up their first touchdown of the afternoon. Murray’s 29-yard touchdown run in the third quarter helped the running back eclipse the 100-yard mark while giving the Vikings their biggest lead of the day.

For the remainder of the game the Ravens failed to make up any ground on the surging Vikings. Another Tucker field goal put the Ravens within nine but Forbath answered with his fifth and sixth field goals of the day to make it a 24-9 game. The Vikings found themselves in complete control with nothing left to do but run out the final minutes on the clock.

Despite winning the turnover battle and limiting their penalties, the Ravens couldn’t find the success they desperately needed. A last second touchdown by Chris Moore marked the first trip to the end zone for this Ravens offense in the last two weeks. The defense should not be let off the hook either. The return of Williams couldn’t stop Baltimore from crumbling under pressure of playing extended minutes.

The harsh reality is the Ravens are facing possibly the most critical portion of their season. A short week matchup against Miami is the exact opposite of what this injured team needs. Then, it’s off to Tennessee and Green Bay for two straight road games.

Image Credit: Adam Bettcher / Getty Images