Colts' defensive end Kwity Paye was down on the grass at Deutsche Bank Park. The Colts' training staff ran out to attend to Paye and assisted him off the field. It was a hamstring injury that took Paye to the sidelines.
As Paye walked off gingerly, Dayo Odeyingbo came on to replace him. The Colts always talk about having a "next man up" mentality, and Odeyingbo focused on picking up the slack.
"I knew it was going to be a little more workload on myself," Odeyingbo said after the game. "So, I just kind of was hoping to take it on myself and do my best to make plays and help the team win."
The 2021 second-round pick out of Vanderbilt has spent most of his career in Indianapolis as a depth piece on the defensive line. Odeyingbo has always shown fantastic athleticism but has never quite put it all together.
We may have seen him do just that in real-time.
It only took two plays for Odeyingbo to make it into the Patriots backfield to bring down quarterback Mac Jones for the sack. Then came another sack. And another.
Odeyingbo finished the game with a career-high three sacks as the Colts defense stifled Jones and the Patriots offense on the way to a 10-6 victory. It is safe to say "Hurricane Dayo" made landfall in Frankfurt, Germany.
"It feels great," Odeyingbo said with a smile. "Everybody, we all come out here every day and put in the work. It feels good to have it kind of show off in a big way on a big stage."
While Paye eventually returned and recorded a sack of his own, Odeyingbo was a menace from the moment he entered the game. All three of his sacks came in the first half, putting pressure on Jones and not allowing him to find receivers down the field. Odeyingbo became the first Colts player to have three sacks in a half since legendary pass rusher Dwight Freeney in 2005.
"(Freeney) is a great Hall of Fame player," Odeyingbo admitted. "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."
Performances like Sunday will allow Odeyingbo to carve his own path very quickly. The Patriots had no answer for the 6-6, 286-pound pass rusher. Adding three sacks of Jones gives Odeyingbo six on the year, the most of any Colts' defender this season.
Odeyingbo made the most of his opportunities against the Patriots. Odeyingbo is known for his dedication to improving as a pass rusher, and his hard work is now producing results. His Colts teammates and coaches are noticing as well.
"It's the constant work he puts into his craft each and every week," DeForest Buckner explained about Odeyingbo. "He gets close, and just to continue to stay patient and not press or stress about getting sacks and just continuing to work each and every day, not complaining and taking advantage of those one-on-one opportunities. He just has been – it's been awesome to see him have this big game, going into the bye."
"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," head coach Shane Steichen remarked.
Odeyingbo had some extra motivation for his performance on Sunday. Just like left tackle Bernhard Raimann had multiple family members in attendance, Odeyingbo had a large contingent of his family at the game in Germany. With family ties to Nigeria, many family members who had never seen him play before were witnesses to his historic performance.
"It's really important for me to be able to go out there and put on for my family," Odeyingbo explained. "This is the most family I've had at a game probably in my whole life. I think I had, like, 13 family members here, so I'm just happy to be able to go out there and be able to give them a show. A lot of them are watching their first football game at any level, so it was really exciting.
"Just having that much family in the building, I kind of felt like it was a little personal, and it meant a little bit more today. Obviously, you want to come out and play your best."
Odeyingbo showed what his best can be. The pass rusher proved he can be more than just a rotational piece along the defensive line. Instead, he is a weapon that can be used in multiple situations to pressure the quarterback and affect the game.
Many Colts fans have been waiting to see a breakout game from Odeyingbo. As a second-round pick, considerable hype and expectations come with being selected that high. But each season of his career has centered around getting to this point.
He spent most of his rookie season on injured reserve due to a torn Achilles. He used his sophomore campaign to get used to the speed of the NFL game. And now, in his third season, it is all coming together.
"It just comes down to keeping stacking days, and eventually you're going to break," Odeyingbo revealed. "I'm just going back to stacking days."
It is time for the Colts to give Odeyingbo a bigger role on defense. It is time to release the Hurricane.
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