Odafe Oweh will never forget his first regular-season game in Baltimore. Neither will his teammates or Ravens fans.
The first-round draft pick from Penn State made the defensive play of Baltimore's young season, knocking the ball loose from running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and recovering the fumble with 1:26 left to play and the Ravens protecting a one-point lead.
It was a signature moment in Baltimore's 36-35 victory, ending the Kansas City Chiefs' recent mastery of the Ravens.
Until Oweh intervened, it appeared the Chiefs were headed to their fourth straight win over Baltimore, led by star quarterback Patrick Mahomes and their high-powered offense. The Chiefs were already in field-goal range and driving for a potential game-winning score when Oweh took matters into his hands by taking the ball from Edwards-Helaire.
The Ravens' defense needed to make a play, and Oweh seized the moment. In two games, he has already been a difference-maker in the defense.
"That's the kind of play we envisioned him making when they drafted him," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "That's the kind of play that he and I talked about him making this week as we were preparing. He was going to play a lot more, both he and (Justin) Madubuike. Those guys have earned more playing time and they both played great. For him to come up and make that play in that situation is just something that will be remembered the rest of our lives."
Oweh's strip and fumble recovery wasn't the only huge play he made. The Ravens trailed 35-24 with three minutes left in the third quarter, and the Chiefs had the ball again, in position to move in for the kill. But Oweh changed the game's momentum when he stormed into the Chiefs' backfield and pressured Mahomes into a turnover, forcing him to throw an ill-advised pass that was intercepted by Tavon Young.
That play seemed to bring out the best in the Ravens' defense. They held the Chiefs scoreless in the fourth quarter and stifled their final three drives, something you rarely see with Mahomes at the helm and the game on the line. With Ravens legend Ray Lewis cheering from the stands and the crowd at M&T Bank Stadium going crazy, nothing about his first game in this setting seemed too big for the rookie.
Oweh wasn't just reacting. He was thinking. On the Chiefs' final drive, he knew the Ravens needed a turnover to keep a potential game-winning field goal from taking place. So when he saw an opportunity to strip the ball from Edwards-Helaire, Oweh went for it.
"I'm definitely trying to get it," Oweh said. "I was getting held but I did as much as I could, slap his arm. As soon as I slapped it, I saw the ball on the ground. I was like, 'It's time. Get that ball, we're trying to win the game.'"
Even when the Chiefs were leading by 11 points and the Ravens had given up big plays and 35 points, Oweh said the defense was never demoralized.
"Don't flinch," Oweh said. "That's our defense. We had given up plays the whole game but we had the next-play mentality. Keep on pushing and we did."
So many times in their history, the Ravens have won games with their defense. But this has been a strange September for the Ravens with many season-ending injuries followed by a difficult overtime loss in Las Vegas in Week 1. A loss would have left the Ravens 0-2 for the first time since 2015, but thanks largely to Oweh, the Ravens are 1-1 and hoping Sunday's victory will be the start of them building momentum.
The Ravens saw Oweh's potential as a pass-rusher when they drafted him, but they also saw more. His versatility and athleticism makes him a perfect fit in Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale's system, a player who can be utilized many ways. There were times against the Chiefs when Oweh blitzed, or set the edge against the run, or even split out wide to defend All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce in coverage.
Oweh doesn't shy away from any assignment, confident he can handle the responsibility. That bodes well for Oweh's future, but he's already bringing playmaking ability to the defense.
"I just try to work hard every day in practice, try to work on what I'm going to see in the game and ball out, put it all in God's hands," Oweh said. "Obviously, I want to impact the game, every game I play. I'm just out there hooping."