BALTIMORE – Vikings running back Dalvin Cook was asked about the struggles of an offense that was nipped in first downs (36-13) and time of possession (46:04-23:40) in an all-too-frustratingly-familiar 34-31 loss to the Ravens with 16 seconds left in overtime at M&T Bank Stadium.

"They just kept us off the field," he said.

Wrong answer.

The Vikings had two great takeaways and a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. And somehow lost because the offense, which should be carrying this team, disappeared at the worst possible moments. Again.

"I thought we were actually playing pretty well on defense," coach Mike Zimmer said.


The Ravens came in 5-2 and atop the AFC North, the NFL's best division. They were coming off a bye, playing at home and hosting an NFC team, which was good for them since that conference is now 0-for-12 in trying to beat the beast that is Lamar Jackson.

When the Vikings led 14-3, Jackson was looking human as a runner and awful as a passer. Baltimore was 1-for-6 on third down. The Vikings were 3-for-3 and Kirk Cousins had a perfect passer rating and touchdowns passing and rushing.

"And then we got kind of worn down on defense," Zimmer said.


The first uh-oh, here-we-go-again turn of events started with 1:41 left in the first half.

Rookie safety Cam Bynum, getting his first NFL start with Harrison Smith on the COVID-19 list, had a great diving interception and 27-yard return to the Baltimore 16.

Then …

Cook runs for minus-1 yard up the middle. (Talk about a wet blanket). Cousins throws too cautiously to his right for an incompletion to Adam Thielen. Cousins throws too cautiously to his left — 2 yards behind the sticks — for a one-hopper incompletion to Justin Jefferson.

"That possession, that's on me," Cousins said. "I felt second down, you know, we need to hit Adam on his out route. And I felt third down, on third-and-11, we need to hit Justin on his out route."

OK. What should you have done to make that happen? Perhaps risk a third interception just a tad for the chance to win a fourth game by stepping on Baltimore's throat at precisely the right time?

"I should've put the ball on Adam," Cousins said. "And the one on J.J., too."

Instead, the Vikings turned the takeaway into a 16-second drive for minus-1 yard and a field goal to take a 17-3 lead.

The Ravens said, thanks fellas, and made it a one-score game with a 75-yard touchdown drive that took one minute.

"That's an 11-point swing," Cousins said. "I was very disappointed in myself for not making those plays to stay on the field."

The Vikings had three other three-and-outs in which they had to punt. The worst one ruined the greatest splash play Barr has had since his rookie season in 2014.

The Ravens won the overtime coin toss and moved 42 yards with ease. Jackson then tried to throw the ball over Barr to Patrick Ricard, the world's biggest fullback.

Barr jumped, tipped the ball and was able to grab it out of the air as he was falling.

"Everyone [on defense] was really tired," Kendricks said. "But we believed in ourselves. Anthony made that big play. We were scrapping."

And then here's what the offense did with the splash play fans have been begging Barr for the past seven years:

Check down to Cook for 2 yards. Cook run for minus-1 yard. A Cousins pass 16 yards downfield to … nobody.

The play sheet says the intended receiver was Thielen. OK, if you say so.

The Ravens got the ball back and drove 72 yards in 10 plays, taking all but 16 seconds off the clock before kicking the game-winning field goal.

The Vikings held the ball for 1:25 of the overtime. When they got the ball, they needed 25 yards to give Greg Joseph a chance to win the game by matching his season-long make of 55 yards. They mustered 1 yard.

So, yeah, Baltimore turned the ball over near midfield in overtime. And still beat the Vikings in what's become an all-too-frustratingly-familiar script.