Antwan Odom celebrates one of his two sacks. (AP photo)
Posted: 8 p.m.
Lost in the final 38 seconds were two huge plays by that Bengals nickel package that held the Broncos to 3-for-12 on third down. It made those last 38 seconds possible.
On third-and-10 from the Bengals 29 with 7:35 left and Denver poised to take a 9-0 lead that would be all she wrote, the Bengals forced a hold on Denver center Casey Wiegmann that made it third-and-16 from the 35. That's when defensive end Antwan Odom came up the middle for his second sack of the game that took Denver out of field-goal range and forced a punt and set up the Bengals go-ahead drive.
Odom, the richest free agent in Bengals history, looked like a shiny half dollar in defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's new nickel look. Zimmer has been sitting on it all preseason and then sprung an intriguing set that moved Odom inside at tackle and brought rookie Michael Johnson off the bench to play end opposite Robert Geathers. A lot of times tackle Tank Johnson was next to Odom and sometimes the four linemen were in a two-point stance and not letting Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton know if they were dropping or rushing.
Odom, who had just three sacks in an injury-plagued '08, barged to two already from the inside. End/tackle Jonathan Fanene had the other sack for a three-sack game. The Bengals had only two three-sack games last year.
"I like it inside; it's good to mix it up," said Odom, who is built for such excursions now that he weighs about 20 pounds heavier at 280. "We've been working on pass rushing all offseason and I think we did a good job today not letting them convert."
Orton was just 5-for-10 passing on third down for 49 yards, 20 coming on a pass to tight end Daniel Graham on the same final drive Odom came up with his saving sack. In the first quarter he got a sack and tipped a pass to force two punts.
On the last sack, he noted Wiegmann in the middle and went from there.
"I kind of noticed how the center was setting," Odom said. "I just got him inside. It's a good change. I like to get upfield pretty quick and I can do that in the three technique."