The absence of running back Chris Ivory was noticeable in the Saints' 30-24 to the Baltimore Ravens, on Sunday. Jeff Duncan, of the Times-Picayune, has the story, below.

Chris Ivory #29 of the New Orleans Saints runs for a touchdown during the NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on December 5, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The Saints won 34-30.

Courtesy---Jeff Duncan/Times-Picayune

But most of all, what I took away from Sunday's loss was how important running back Chris Ivory has become to the Saints.

Ivory doesn't have the name or the star power of fellow backfield mates Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas, and he doesn't command breathless injury reports about his playing status. But at this stage of their careers, he's more important to the Saints than either of his more-heralded teammates.

That was never more apparent than against the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.