MINNEAPOLIS — Ravens wide receiver Mike Wallace walked from one end of the sideline to the other, pleading his case first to members of the team's medical and athletic training staff, then to coach John Harbaugh and then to anybody within earshot who would listen.
He frantically searched for his helmet, even swinging open some equipment cases. But no matter how hard he looked and how much he talked, his afternoon was over.
"That was a done deal," Harbaugh said.
Playing against one of his old teams after a week in which he barely practiced because of a back injury, Wallace was knocked out of the game and into concussion protocol on the Ravens' second drive, courtesy of a high and penalized hit by Minnesota Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo, who dislodged the ball and Wallace's helmet after the wide receiver, running a slant pattern, caught a 9-yard pass from quarterback Joe Flacco.
Wallace looked dazed as he lay on his back and medical personnel from both sides rushed onto the field. He ultimately walked to the locker room under his own power and the Ravens ruled him out not long later.
His departure left the Ravens with just three receivers for the final 3½ quarters of their 24-16 loss to the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium and compounded the offense's problems against one of the NFL's best defenses. It might not have mattered anyway, but the Ravens certainly didn't have enough to threaten the Vikings without their top three receivers.
"It's tough to talk about how tough it is. It is what it is," Flacco said. "We have to go out there and we have to play and that's why we have 53 guys in the roster that are active every week, so that everybody gets a chance to step out and make it happen. It obviously isn't the best situation, but we've got to make it work."
The Ravens entered the game with just four wide receivers as Jeremy Maclin (shoulder), Breshad Perriman (concussion) and Chris Matthews (hamstring) were ruled out. Maclin had been planning to play in the days leading up to the game, but he apparently wasn't able to pass pregame tests, so he was sidelined for a second straight game.
Then, just three minutes into the game and on the Ravens' fifth offensive play, Wallace was knocked out of the proceedings. That left the Ravens with a three-man wide receiver group of Michael Campanaro (River Hill), who entered the game with nine catches this season; Chris Moore, who had three catches and was active for only the fourth time all year; and Griff Whalen, who was signed Thursday and had never caught a pass from Flacco before practice that day.
"Once Mike went down, it was us three. We knew that was that," Campanaro said. "We couldn't come out being tired or anything. It was unfortunate, but I thought guys, especially Griff, stepped up coming in a new role and did a good job."
Campanaro appeared to hurt his wrist after a 19-yard jet sweep in the third quarter. He missed a few plays, then returned to the game. He felt he didn't have much of a choice.
Seventeen of Flacco's 27 completions went to running backs or tight ends as the Ravens predictably struggled to present problems on the outside against a talented defense.
Whalen went from working out on his own in California — he wasn't signed and he received nary a tryout after the Ravens released him late in the preseason – to leading the Ravens' wide receivers in receptions with four. Running back Buck Allen (eight catches for 29 yards) and tight end Benjamin Watson (five catches for 38 yards) led the offense in catches.
Moore went from looking like a player without a role two weeks ago to being shadowed Sunday by the Vikings' Xavier Rhodes, one of the game's best cornerbacks. He finished the game with two receptions for 36 yards. He caught a 13-yard touchdown pass with no time on the clock to break the Ravens' touchdown-less streak at nearly 11 full quarters.
"It was a little bit of a shock [to] me, but I felt like I was prepared," Moore said. "The coaches did a good job. It would be nice to have a lot of receivers out there, but it was only three of us, so we did the best that we could."
It’s unclear whether things will get better soon as the Ravens play again Thursday night against the Miami Dolphins. That doesn’t give Perriman or Wallace much time to pass the concussion protocol.
“Mike's a tough guy,” Harbaugh said. “He was adamant about wanting to get back in the game. He's got some kind of a concussion to some degree. We will find how, over the next couple days, it shakes out.”