Much of the Colts game against the Patriots was mundane. Neither team could get much going on offense. A few big defensive plays kept the game fun, and while it’s hard not to feel deja vu with Rodney Thomas’ game-sealing interception (Marlin Jackson, interception slide to seal the AFC Championship), no one had a more exciting defensive performance than Dayo Odeyingbo.
A 2021 second-round pick, Odeyingbo has seen his role gradually increase each season. It’s easy to forget that he was injured when drafted and lost most of his rookie season, meaning most of his growth has come over the last two years. Seeing his development is an encouraging sign for Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley and has helped the defensive line rotation come together in 2023.
One of the things that stands out about Odeyingbo is his versatility, lining up on the edge or inside, depending on the situation. It’s that versatility that makes a regular part of the defensive line rotation and likely what allowed him to step into a much more significant role when Kwity Paye went down early with a hamstring injury.
“I knew it was going to be a little more workload on myself,” Odeyingbo said postgame, eager to “make plays and help the team win.”
Odeyingbo’s three first-half sacks matched a previous franchise record by Colts great Dwight Freeney.
Dayo Odeyingbo came into the game with 3 sacks this season.— NFL (@NFL) November 12, 2023
He has 3 sacks already in the first half. @dodeyingbo
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Coach Shane Steichen said that Odeyingbo’s first-half performance set the tone for the game.
For Dayo to get that, going out there and playing like he did, and the rest of the defensive line, it was big setting the tone early.
On being mentioned alongside Freeney, Odeyingbo said “(Freeney) is a great Hall of Fame player. One of the Colts’ greats. It’s great to be mentioned with him, but I’m trying to carve out my own path and my own journey.”
Deforest Buckner complimented his hard work.
For me it’s the constant work he puts into his craft each and every week... it’s been awesome to see him have this big game, going into the bye. I was just telling him, it’s a great feeling going into the bye week with a win in a three-piece. So he deserved that.
As a small bonus for Odeyingbo, he had a large representation of family members in attendance for the game, including some from Nigeria who were watching him play for the first time. “It’s really important for me to be able to go out there and put on for my family,” an emotional Odeyingbo reflected.
With a performance like this, it’s reasonable to wonder whether he is earning an even larger role on defense. He now leads the Colts with six sacks for the season and has a bye week to work things out with the defensive coaching staff.