The Ravens came into this weekend severely short-handed offensively.
And they left Minnesota in even worse shape.
By the time Sunday's 24-16 loss to the Vikings was final, quarterback Joe Flacco had just two fully healthy wide receivers at his disposal. One of those receivers, Griff Whalen, had signed with the Ravens four days before the game after spending the last six weeks out of football.
The combination of nagging issues with season-ending injuries was fully apparent in a game where the Ravens couldn't consistently move the football, protect Flacco or pick up any chunk plays. Baltimore's offense has struggled for much of the season, and the unit had just 208 yards of total offense against the Vikings.
"It just is what it is," Flacco said. "It obviously isn't the best situation, but we have to make it work."
The most hobbled group was at wide receiver, as Jeremy Maclin (shoulder), Breshad Perriman (concussion) and Chris Matthews (thigh) didn't even dress for the game. Top receiver Mike Wallace, who came into the weekend nursing a sore back, then suffered a concussion in the first quarter and was sidelined the rest of the game.
Michael Campanaro was injured in the third quarter, but played through it.
"I got banged up, just playing football, but absolutely you just have to stay out there and keep playing for the guys," said Campanaro, who caught three passes for 31 yards.
Without Wallace, Perriman or Maclin, the Ravens lacked a vertical threat to stretch the field and had to rely on underneath routes to running backs or tight ends to try to move the football. The Vikings knew Baltimore's offense was limited and Head Coach John Harbaugh said Minnesota used two high safeties throughout the game to take away the deep ball.
Minnesota also made life tough on Flacco, who was sacked five times. He averaged 6.8 yards per completion and finished the game 27-of-39 for 186 yards and a touchdown.
"We weren't able to really take any deep shots over top of them for whatever reason – whether it was personnel, or what they were giving us," Flacco said. "Obviously, down the stretch, we tried to throw the ball deep there a couple of times, but there just wasn't much happening on that end of it."
The Ravens also had a tough time establishing any kind of success on the ground. They came into the game with the seventh-best rushing attack in the NFL, but they couldn't consistently run the ball against Minnesota's imposing defensive front. Running backs Alex Collins and Javorius Allen combined for 50 yards on the ground.
"I think they did a great job defending the run and covering, and doing the things they need to do," Harbaugh said.
The Ravens finally started to find some success on their last drive of the game after the Vikings already had the game in hand. They drove down the field and receiver Chris Moore caught a 13-yard touchdown as time expired, which was the first time the offense had found the end zone in 11 quarters.
Before that touchdown, Justin Tucker had provided all the points on field goals of 47, 48 and 57 yards.
The recent rash of injuries has clearly taken a toll and is continuing a season-long trend for the Ravens, who lead the NFL with 16 players on injured reserve. The offense has already lost starting guards Marshal Yanda (ankle) and Alex Lewis (shoulder) for the season, as well as reserve offensive lineman Nico Siragusa (knee). Running back Terrance West (calf) and Matt Skura (knee) have missed the last two games with injuries.
The Ravens also lost tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) and offensive lineman John Urschel (retirement) before the season started.
The volume and significance of the injuries are difficult to overcome, but the Ravens also know they have to find a way to quickly get the offense in gear before welcoming the Miami Dolphins to M&T Bank Stadium in four days.
"You go back to work. You get better. You look at where you made mistakes," Flacco said. "But I wouldn't say overall that we're trying to fix something that's completely broken. We can't look at it that way.
"We have to keep our heads up and play one game at a time. This is where we are right now and there's nothing we can do to go back in time right now and change it. We work hard. We're in the building 24/7 trying to get everything as good as it can be, so we're going to continue to do that."
Check out all the best photos from Minnesota as the Ravens battle the Vikings in week 7!