The Ravens got their first taste of life without Terrell Suggs Sunday, and it wasn't a pretty picture.
Baltimore's defense struggled for much of the day, allowing the Raiders to pick up chunks of yardage on the ground and through the air. They failed to get much pressure in the face of Oakland quarterback Derek Carr, and he ultimately marched the Raiders down the field for a game-winning touchdown drive in the final two minutes after the Ravens had just taken their first lead of the day.
"You can't replace a Hall of Fame-caliber player," defensive end Chris Canty said. "We understood the challenge that was ahead of us. We understand we had to find a way to win. Guys had to step up, and quite frankly we didn't do that today. We took a step backwards."
With Suggs out, the Ravens hardly generated a pass rush against Carr. The second-year quarterback threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns, and the Raiders finished with a total of 448 yards of offensive production.
The performance was in stark contrast to last week's outing when the Ravens kept quarterback Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense out of the end zone all game.
"They were throwing the ball very quick," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "We got out-played and we got out-coached. There's no doubt about it."
The Ravens turned to veteran outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil to step into the starting lineup with Suggs sidelined. Instead of operating as a pass-rush specialist, Dumervil saw more action on early downs against the running game.
Courtney Upshaw maintained his spot as an edge-setting outside linebacker, and the Ravens then gave rookie Za'Darius Smith an opportunity to make his NFL debut in pass-rushing situations. Veteran Albert McClellan also saw defensive reps at outside linebacker.
Dumervil and McClellan both finished the game with two tackles and Smith added another. The only sack was from cornerback Jimmy Smith when Carr scrambled.
"We did good things sometimes, and sometimes we didn't," Dumervil said. "It just wasn't good enough, myself included."
The Ravens signed veteran pass rusher Jason Babin to help replace Suggs, but the team opted to make him a healthy scratch after signing him Tuesday.
"You can only put 46 guys up here," Harbaugh said. "He was only here for a week. We have Za'Darius Smith working hard and he had some speed out there."
Nobody blamed the loss on Suggs' absence, but his versatility was clearly missed. Suggs is a stellar defender against the run and the pass, and he attracts plenty of attention from opposing offensive coordinators.
"I think the guys who came up behind him did a great job," veteran cornerback Lardarius Webb said. "Terrell Suggs – a future Hall of Famer, a Pro Bowler – you're always going to miss a guy like that because he's an impact player. He's going to do something on the field that impacts the game. I would say yeah, we missed him."
Webb actually pinned Sunday's loss on the secondary for giving up too many big plays. Safety Will Hill refused to use the injury to Suggs as a reason for why they came up short.
"You can always see an absence of a key player, but even if he was there today, we would have needed to do a little bit more to get the job done," Hill said.
As tough as losing Suggs is for the defense, they know they can't afford to stumble any more without him. His season is over, and the Ravens have to find a way to get their current lineup to elevate their play.
"It stinks to lose a player like Terrell Suggs," defensive tackle Brandon Williams said. "But in the end, we're playing that game and he's back home getting recovered. We have to come out there and get that win no matter what, no matter who's out there. We have to step up and do what we're coached to do. We didn't do that today."
Check out the best photos from Oakland as the Ravens battle the Raiders in week 2 of the 2015 season.