Posted: 9:55 p.m.
GREEN BAY, Wis. - It's been so long since a Bengals player had five sacks that long-time radio analyst Dave Lapham was playing for them.
And it's been so long for Antwan Odom that he's making a bid for NFL Comeback Player of the Year with just seven sacks in the first two games.
Lapham goes back to even before sacks were kept officially. In 1974 he saw Bengals defensive tackle Mike Reid pound former Pro Bowl guard Ed Budde for five sacks that didn't make it in Bengals PR maven P.J. Combs' defensive section of the record book.
"You never see a D-tackle get five sacks, but this performance was in that kind of class," Lapham said after the game. "There was an injury and a mismatch, but (Odom) took advantage of it in a big way."
With the Bengals clinging to a 28-21 lead on wide receiver Chad Ochocinco's Willie Mays shoestring 13-yard touchdown catch late in the third quarter, Odom forced three straight fourth-quarter punts. By the time they got it figured out the Bengals were up, 31-21, on Shayne Graham's 40-yard field goal with 1:56 left.
Now next Sunday it is Blitzinnati vs. Blitzburgh. Mike Zimmer, the Bengals' resident professor of pressure, will be pitted against Dick LeBeau, the dean in charge of sacks.
"That's a hell of a lot of sacks," said Odom, who had just three all last year and eight the year before that in a season that earned him the richest Bengals free-agent deal in history.
"It's kind of like a dream come true," Odom said. "You think you're dreaming and you're going to wake up and reality is going to set in. I guess it's not a dream."
But it was a dream scenario when Odom took the Pack by surprise and gave Chad Clifton, Green Bay's highly-regarded left tackle, problems in the first half while the Packers gave help to struggling right tackle Alan Barbre. Odom had two sacks in the first half and when Clifton got carted off the field with an ankle injury on the Packers' first snap of the second half, Green Bay was forced to move the already hobbled Daryn Colledge from left guard to left tackle, center Jason Spitz to left guard and Scott Wells off the bench to center.
Lapham, a 10-year offensive lineman, knew what that meant.
"They had to make three changes and Colledge is a guard who was on the injury report (ankle) and he's not used to playing in space because he's a guard," Lapham said. "One you get into space, you're coming upfield, now you can go underneath him."
Defensive tackle Domata Peko saw that the Packers simply couldn't block Odom one-on-one.
"They were so worried about No. 78 (Barbre) that they forgot abut the other dude," Peko said. "He got the other guy a few times before he got hurt. They were helping 78 so much..."
Lapham said the Cincinnati defensive coaches countered the Pack's decision to start helping Colledge with tight ends and fullbacks by going to a five-man line. Rookie end Michael Johnson was the extra guy and the defensive coordinator, Zimmer, either dropped him in coverage or rushed him off the edge or the middle.
"The coaches did a great job with that five-man line when they began sliding the offensive line to Odom," Lapham said. "They were saying we're not going to let you chip or double because you have to block these five guys with these five guys."
With seven sacks, Odom is already one away from his career-high of eight that earned him $6 million a year with the Bengals. This is also the fourth seven-sacker in head coach Marvin Lewis' seven seasons after Justin Smith's eight sacks in 2004 and 7.5 in 2006 and Robert Geathers' 10.5 in 2006.
Sunday's six sacks by the Bengals (the other was rookie SAM linebacker Rey Maualuga's first of his career) marked their most in 49 games since the seven in the '06 opener in Kansas City.
Odom admitted having a one-touchdown lead late was huge.
"We got a lead and being in that zone, you know what time it is," he said as he talked about what led to his five sacks. "My speed and ability to shake inside and outside."
Odom got most of his sacks at left end, but he also moved into either tackle on nickel snaps depending on the strength of the formation. He figures he got one sack inside in nickel and the rest on the edge.
"That speed is tough on the edge," Maualuga said.
It is sweet redemption for Odom after last year when he broke his foot in the first 40 minutes of training camp and then tore up his shoulder halfway through the season. After a rigorous offseason he put on 20 pounds to get to 280 pounds, he says simply feels better physically.
"I felt like last week was kind of the coming out thing that Antwan needed," Lewis said. "Last year was a frustrating year for him. We bring him in here and we expect him to amp up our pass rush and he gets injured time and time again and that's a frustrating thing. People are saying, 'Where's Odom? Is he this or is he that?' I'm glad for Antwan because he's had to persevere through some tough things. Now he's doing the things we expected him to do when we brought him in here.
"That's what half of this is all about. They're playing the football we expect them to play. Our punter to our rookie linebacker. Doing the things we expect them to do. Our two corners. Our offensive front group, too many penalties, but we were able to churn out and run the ball."
As Odom left the locker room, left end Robert Geathers had a big smile for him.
"He had a great game. They couldn't block him one-on-one," Geathers. "Hey, Antwan, that's why you're getting the big money, right?"