Mohamed Sanu caught on to The Patriot Way in surprisingly quick fashion.
Less than two weeks after New England acquired Sanu via trade, the veteran wide receiver already served as quarterback Tom Brady’s top target Sunday night against the Baltimore Ravens.
Sanu caught 10 passes on 14 targets for 81 yards with a touchdown against the Ravens. Sanu was Brady’s most targeted receiver with the Ravens paying close attention to receiver Julian Edelman, who caught 10 passes on 11 targets for 89 yards.
Sanu primarily played in the slot during his Patriots debut in Week 8. He ran 61.5 percent of his routes from the slot last week against the Cleveland Browns. Sanu ran just 39.6 percent of his routes from the slot Sunday night against the Ravens.
Sanu caught four passes on four targets for 20 yards with his touchdown from the slot. He caught a 6-yard pass out of the backfield. He caught five passes on nine targets for 55 yards from the outside where he primarily played as the Patriots’ Z-receiver.
Sanu and Edelman are an interesting receiving pair because they’re both well-versed playing in the slot and at the Z-receiver spots. They can essentially share those roles and divvy them up depending on the matchup. Rookie N’Keal Harry could eventually take over the X-receiver role, but he was inactive Sunday in his first game eligible to make his NFL debut. Phillip Dorsett, James White, Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel and Ben Watson all saw snaps as outside receivers.
The Patriots used a pick play to get Sanu open for his touchdown.
It was legal too. Tight end Ben Watson made contact with a Ravens defender within 1 yard of the line of scrimmage. It turned the Ravens into bowling pins before Brady threw his strike to Sanu.
It wasn’t all perfect between Brady and Sanu. Brady failed to hit Sanu on two deep tosses. He threw an interception on the second deep attempt that looked more like an arm punt on third-and-10 from midfield. Brady almost threw another interception on an inaccurate shallow throw to Sanu. There was another incompletion when Sanu seemingly accidentally ran the same route as Burkhead.
But it’s mighty impressive to see Sanu catch 10 passes from Brady and immediately earn the QB’s trust in just his second game with New England. Sanu becomes just the 15th player to catch double-digit passes from Brady in a single game, joining Danny Amendola, Deion Branch, Troy Brown, Julian Edelman, Jabar Gaffney, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon LaFell, Randy Moss, Shane Vereen, Wes Welker, James White and Jermaine Wiggins on that list. You might have heard of some of those players.
It will be interesting to see how Brady’s chemistry with Sanu grows by season’s end.
Some other notes:
— Maybe it looked good in comparison to the Patriots’ defense, but the Patriots’ offense showed plenty of glimmers Sunday night. White ran well and had a stellar catch on a deep pass from Brady. Watson dropped a pass but looks like the Patriots’ best receiving tight end. Edelman fumbled but otherwise was a dependable option for Brady. He also snagged a ball over his shoulder in the middle of the field.
— Left tackle Marshall Newhouse is getting too much hate after Sunday night. The Patriots’ defense is the reason the Patriots lost. Newhouse let up a sack, a QB hit and two hurries, but Brady wasn’t exactly under siege all night.
— The Ravens ran at defensive tackle Adam Butler and linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley on Mark Ingram’s 53-yard gain and Gus Edward’s 12-yard score on consecutive plays in the second quarter.
— Bentley and outside linebacker Jamie Collins bit hard on quarterback Lamar Jackson’s 3-yard touchdown scamper in the first quarter. Bentley had a nice tackle for loss in the fourth quarter.
Thumbnail photo via Douglas DeFelice/USA TODAY Sports Images