Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson described the Kansas City Chiefs as the “kryptonite” of the team following last season’s 34-20 loss to the defending Super Bowl champions.
But ironically, the Chiefs may have given the Ravens their own super-weapon against Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City’s nearly unstoppable offense: rookie outside linebacker Odafe Oweh.
The Ravens drafted Oweh with the 31st pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, which they acquired from the Chiefs as part of the Orlando Brown Jr. trade in April.
Kansas City hadn’t anticipated that their pick would be used to pick up a player who would force two clutch turnovers to beat the Chiefs, but that’s exactly what Oweh did on Sunday night.
First, the rookie used his speed to surprise Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes in a delayed blitz, forcing a rare 2018 MVP wandering throw that was circled by cornerback Tavon Young for an interception. who set up a touchdown from the Ravens.
Oweh followed up with the biggest play of his young career, forcing a huge fumble that killed off the potential winning Chiefs.
Former Nittany Lion broke through the Chiefs’ offensive line and stripped running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, hopping on the fumble to give the Ravens possession.
“That’s the kind of play we imagined he was doing when we drafted him,” Harbaugh said of Oweh’s forced fumble, which helped the Ravens seal the game.
Ironically, Oweh slipped past Brown, who the Ravens gave up to acquire Oweh, to make the pivotal play, with Chiefs guard Joe Thuney unable to stop the quick OLB.
Oweh dazzles with the game at the start of the season
Drafted as a physical specimen, Oweh demonstrated his rapidly developing technique and footballing IQ in the Ravens’ first two regular season games.
Last week against the Las Vegas Raiders, he led all rookies with four quarterback presses, converting one to a sack, by Pro Football Focus.
Oweh earned a PFF score of 86.3 for his efforts on Sunday night, the highest of any Ravens defender, bringing him to a score of 80.4 on the year, the 14th highest score of any defenseman in edge.
His forced fumble was also named “Biggest Deciding Moment” by PFF, as it increased the Ravens’ probability of victory by 64.3%. Oweh has been extremely good against the run, securing a defense score of 89.9 points from PFF, third among edge defenders.
While his former Penn State teammate Micah Parsons is the current favorite to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award, Oweh has made his way into the conversation after his resounding performance against the Chiefs.
Ravens Blitz Less, Limit Hill
But Oweh wasn’t the only reason the Ravens beat the Chiefs on Sunday night.
Defensive coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale has responded to calls to curb his usual tendency to blitz hard, instead working to limit the main offensive weapons of Mahomes, wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce.
Kelce still nicked the Ravens for 108 yards on seven catches, including a 46-yard play that no Baltimore defenseman apparently could stop.
But Hill, often cited as the most explosive receiver in the league, was limited to three catches on four targets for just 14 yards.
Ravens cornerback Anthony Averett stepped up in the absence of injured Marcus Peters, showing his impressive speed to keep up with Hill over several games, including that broken pass on a key third in the fourth quarter.
Averett’s deflection forced the Chiefs to clear, allowing the Ravens’ offense to descend onto the pitch for the game’s final score.