Ravens run defense not miraculously fixed by return of Brandon Williams

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Baltimore Ravens' problems on run defense go beyond one player.

That became increasingly apparent in Sunday's 24-16 loss to the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium, where Baltimore couldn't stop Minnesota's ground game despite the return of defensive tackle Brandon Williams.

The Ravens allowed 169 yards rushing -- the sixth most in Week 7 entering Monday's game -- and gave up a season-worst 5.1 yards per carry. It was another tough dose of reality for the Baltimore defenders.

"I read we're like 30th against the run," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "In 15 years of me being there, we've never been that low. I think we gave up two back-to-back 100-yard rushers. For me being the veteran on the defense, I take more of a blame for that than anything, because I know how we're supposed to play. I know how it's supposed to look."

Baltimore has now allowed 1,017 yards rushing, the most in the NFL. The issues in stopping the run were supposed to get resolved with Williams, the team's top run-stuffer, who has been dealing with a foot injury.

In two games with Williams, the Ravens allowed 85 yards rushing per game. In four games without him, Baltimore gave up an average of 169.5 yards on the ground, including a team-record 231 last Sunday to the Chicago Bears.

Williams made plays in his first game since Sept. 17. He just didn't make the anticipated overall impact to the run defense.

"We still gave up over 100 yards, which is unacceptable for us," said Williams, who re-signed with the Ravens for $52.5 million over five years. "But it was definitely better than 231 [yards] last week. Obviously, it's getting better. That's one aspect we were trying to get better in."

Stopping the run has long been the Ravens' identity. In the franchise's 21 years, the Ravens' run defense has ranked in the top half of the NFL 18 times and in the top five 11 times, including last season.

Now, Baltimore has allowed 100-yard rushers in consecutive weeks -- to Chicago's Jordan Howard and Minnesota's Latavius Murray, who was making his third start in place of the injured Dalvin Cook.

"It's very frustrating," defensive tackle Michael Pierce said. "Kind of the same scenario as last week. You get behind and they pop one and now you're fighting to get back in the game. We've got to get our chemistry down. We got Brandon back but we all have to be cohesive."

The Ravens' defense was on the field for 32 minutes, including more than nine in the final quarter. Coach John Harbaugh bristled at the notion that the defense wore down.

"I mean those clich├ęs -- worn down, gap control -- it's just all meaningless chatter," Harbaugh said. "We have to play better against the run, you know? We have to get a stop. They did a good job; we didn't."