What happened to Brandon Williams?
All I’ve been whining about over the last four weeks was the absence of Baltimore Ravens’ pro bowl defensive tackle Brandon Williams and how that has hurt the Ravens’ run defense.
Baltimore Ravens nose tackle Brandon Williams speaks during a news conference after an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, in Minneapolis. The Vikings won 24-16. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
When Williams played the first games of the season, the Ravens’ defense held opponents to only about 80 rushing yards a game, which ranked amongst the best in the NFL. But when Williams got injured, Baltimore went on to allow 140 yards per game over the next four games, third from the worst in the league.
“If only we had B-Will in the trenches,” I mused, “this defense would be lethal again, like it was at the start of the year when it forced a franchise record 10 turnovers in the first two games.”
Well, maybe I should’ve been more careful of what I wished for.
Minnesota Vikings running back Latavius Murray (25) runs from Baltimore Ravens cornerback Brandon Carr, left, during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Williams made his return from injury Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings (5-2 overall) and he didn’t make a difference at all in stopping the run as the Vikings ran all over the Ravens (3-4 overall) to the tune of a 24-16 victory.
Minnesota just savagely ran the ball down the Ravens’ throats, racking up 169 rushing yards on the day. Latavius Murray led the way with 113 yards on 18 carries, including a 29-yard touchdown run. Vikings backup running back Jerick McKinnon added another 47 yards on 14 carries.
The Vikings’ success at running the ball allowed them to control the time of possession battle, possessing the ball 32 minutes to the Ravens’ 28 minutes. Pounding the running game also allowed Minnesota to hide its backup quarterback, Case Keenum, who filled in for the injured starter, Sam Bradford.
Baltimore knew this, but yet, couldn’t stop the Vikings from running any and everywhere it wanted, Sunday.
Sure, Baltimore struggled offensively, too, but that was expected. Two of its three starting receivers didn’t suit up Sunday, including Breshad Perriman (concussion) and Jeremy Maclin (shoulder). The third starting receiver, Mike Wallace, was knocked out of the game in the first quarter with a concussion. And the offensive line struggled to block on pass or run plays. It’s a miracle that the Ravens were even able to score 16 points.
No one is surprised to see the Ravens struggling offensively. But to watch teams run rampant on their defense? That’s shockingly painful.