The Ravens talked all week leading into Sunday's game against Tennessee about needing playmakers to step up on the back end of the defense.
Rookie safety Terrence Brooks answered the call.
The third-round pick came up with one of the biggest plays of the year from the secondary, delivering a jarring hit on Titans tight end Delanie Walker midway through the second quarter. The hit fired up Baltimore's defense, and the Ravens dominated the rest of the game.
The Titans punted on their next six series after that play.
"I definitely think it sparked the defense in some type of way," Brooks said. "As a secondary, we all have to make plays like that."
The play knocked Walker out of the game with a concussion, but he tweeted after the game that he is "all good."
The collision was violent, but Brooks delivered a clean hit by leading with his shoulder to connect with Walker's shoulder. He avoided helmet-to-helmet contact that would have drawn a flag.
"That's just going out there and playing for my brothers," Brooks said. "We have to go out there and impose our will and have a standard out there. That's just added to it. And that's how we all should play."
Baltimore's defense seemed to play with more of an edge after that play, and the Ravens had one of their most impressive performances of the season. The Titans gained just 68 total yards after the first quarter and didn't convert on a single third down in the second half.
"When you see a guy out there just giving it all and making a clean hit like that, it just changes the whole momentum," cornerback Danny Gorrer said. "You can tell that the defense fed off of that, and look what we did. I think they had like 45 yards of offense in the second half. That was definitely a big momentum changer, and we definitely appreciate it."
Veteran outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil also noticed a difference in the way that Tennessee's receivers approached going over the middle of the field.
"Anytime a guy gets hit like that – obviously you don't want to hurt a guy, but that was an aggressive, clean hit – and it really made guys kind of think of running back there," Dumervil said.
In addition to sparking the defense, the hit was also significant for Brooks. The rookie was a healthy scratch last week after allowing a key catch to Bengals receiver Mohamed Sanu in Week 8 that led to a late Bengals touchdown.
"I definitely had to make up for that," Brooks said. "I take pride in not letting anyone catch anything on me. Just in my book, I don't think anyone should. That's just how much confidence I have in myself."
Brooks could have put himself in the discussion for more playing time after the hit. He's looking to make an impact on the defense during the final six games of the regular season.
"I can't go backward from that," he said. "Now I have to show big hits all the time."