The Baltimore Ravens had most of the healthy members from their 2021 rookie class active for their thrilling 34-31 overtime victory at home over the Minnesota Vikings. Of all the first-year players that suited up for the game, the first one drafted shined the brightest.
Their active list included wide receiver Rashod Bateman, outside linebacker Odafe Oweh, defensive back Brandon Stephens, and wide receiver Tylan Wallace. Undrafted defensive back Ar’Darius Washington was the only first year player on the active roster that didn’t dress for the game for the third straight week.
Here’s a breakdown of how the rookies fared in Week 9.
WR Rashod Bateman
The first-round rookie didn’t eclipse 100 yards receiving or haul in his first career touchdown but he still managed to have a profound impact on the outcome of the game. Bateman continued to showcase his penchant for picking up first downs as four of his five receptions resulted in a new set of downs for the offense. His second catch was perhaps his best snag to date and it came on a third-down where he came up clutch.
He drew a key defensive pass interference penalty while being double covered deep down the field late in the second quarter, essentially sparking the Ravens’ comeback. Trailing 17-3 to Minnesota just before halftime, the 42-yard penalty set up the offense in prime scoring position and Lamar Jackson hit a wide-open Devonta Freeman in the flat for a 5-yard walk-in touchdown.
Bateman tied for the second-most receptions and finished second in receiving yards with 55 but if he was responsible for 97 total yards gained including his penalty yardage. He would’ve had more if Jackson could’ve hit him on time after he was initially left wide open deep down the right sideline on flea flicker trick play. The ball was delivered a tick too late which gave the safety and corner time to recover.
OLB Odafe Oweh
The first-round rookie has been garnering significantly more attention from opposing teams since his hot start to the season and that was evident again today. While he didn’t show up on the box score stat sheet, it wasn’t for a lack of trying. He was cut blocked, chip blocked, and double-teamed several times on Sunday, and didn’t record a pressure event until the fourth quarter.
Oweh’s role has expanded as the season has gone along and he is doing more than primarily rushing the passer. He dropped into coverage on a couple of occasions and after he failed the set the edge on Dalvin Cook’s 66-yard run in the first quarter, he was more disciplined playing the run the rest of the game. Oweh tried to use a spin move one too many times to no avail but I can’t really blame him for trying to use whatever maneuver he could to try to get around multiple blockers.
DB Brandon Stephens
The third-round rookie was having a solid game before he was inserted into the starting lineup at free safety for the defense’s last drive in regulation and lone drive of overtime. Stephens did nearly have a huge gaffe on special teams early in the second quarter when he ran into Devin Duvernay while he was trying to field a punt but thankfully after a review, it was determined that neither of them touched the ball and the Ravens retained possession.
Once he replaced DeShon Elliott, who suffered season-ending injury, he made up for whiffing on a diving tackle attempt by breaking up a pass intended for wide receiver Adam Thielen in the back of the end zone on the very next play. In overtime, the Ravens defense only played three snaps and on the first, Stephens forced Cook out of bounds after he caught a quick swing pass for a minimal gain of just two yards.
WR Tylan Wallace
The fourth-round rookie didn’t see a single snap on offense but was active on both kick coverage units. Unfortunately, he was on the unit that allowed the opening kickoff of the second half to be returned 98-yards by running back Kene Nwangu. It was a discouraging touchdown at the time as it extended the Vikings lead back to two scores after the Ravens had just cut it down to one just before halftime.