For the first time in his career, linebacker Patrick Onwuasor has earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. Onwuasor played perhaps his best of the season, and maybe even his career, in a 22-10 victory over the Chargers in Week 16.
Onwuasor played just 30 defensive snaps but certainly made the most of them. The third-year talent recorded a team-high nine tackles, led the team with two sacks, and made the biggest play of the game on either side of the ball late in the fourth quarter.
With 2:50 remaining in the game and the Ravens leading by six points, Onwuasor punched the ball out of Antonio Gates just before his knees hit the ground following a reception. Tavon Young then picked up the fumble and returned it for a game-sealing touchdown.
Onwuasor’s nine tackles on Saturday night also represent a season-high.
FUMBLE‼‼— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 23, 2018
RAVENS TOUCHDOWN‼‼‼ pic.twitter.com/rTzatP3A1R
If Onwuasor doesn’t make this play, the outcome of the game could have been much different. With Philip Rivers at the helm of the Chargers explosive offense, it’s entirely possible that they march down the field and score a touchdown to take the lead late. Instead, Onwuasor made a huge play to prevent any chance of a Los Angeles comeback.
Since ceding snaps at inside linebacker to Kenny Young earlier in the season, Onwuasor has come on strong of late. On the season, Onwuasor is fourth on the team in tackles (55) and sacks (5.5). He leads all Ravens with two forced fumbles and picked off Case Keenum against the Broncos in Week 3.
Baltimore may need a similar performance from “Peanut” against the Browns in Week 17. Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb have led Cleveland to five wins and their past six games, similar to the Ravens. The Ravens are in a “win-and-in” scenario and their ability to slow down Mayfield and company may ultimately decide their playoff hopes.
Onwuasor is the second Ravens player this season to earn AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. Fellow linebacker Za’Darius Smith won the award in Week 6 following Baltimore’s 21-0 victory over the Titans.