BALTIMORE – The New England Patriots lost the game, lost their undefeated season and lost a little of their Super Bowl luster, particularly on defense.
But the Patriots realized, in ugly defeat, they found a gem in Mohamed Sanu.
The new Patriots receiver, playing in his second game since being acquired from the Atlanta Falcons, did something few “new” receivers have been able to do – gain Tom Brady’s elusive trust.
Other than Randy Moss, there are bus stations full of accomplished receivers who failed here.
Sanu’s stat line last weekend: 14 targets, 10 receptions, 81 yards, 1 TD.
A week ago it was 4 targets, 2 receptions, 23 yards. Basically a non-factor in a dull win over the Brown.
The Patriots lost and that wasn’t the time to hold a parade in Sanu’s honor. But the Patriots offense has some hope going forward.
“Mo has always been a good receiver,” said Pats safety Jason McCourty, who is older but close to the fellow Rutgers University star.
“He was good in Cincinnati and he was good in Atlanta,” said Jason. “He’s strong. He’s smart. He’s got good hands. He’s just got a good head on his shoulders. He’s a great addition to this team.”
Sanu was not buying all of the accolades, at least not last weekend. He could tell losing isn’t something his new team is used to experiencing.
“I am getting better and better each step of the way,” Sanu said. “I still have a ways to go, but I am getting better and better with it. I am just learning day by day. I am just being me. I am a competitor, so I am going to find a way to do the best that I can.”
What’s evident is that Sanu has met his ideal quarterback match in Brady. The six-time Super Bowl champ does most of his best work around the chains in the middle of the field.
It’s painful in that area. Julian Edelman has, despite his many successes, probably lost years on his life with the hits he has taken from linebackers and safeties.
Sanu took a few hits, too, but at 6-foot-2 and 215-pounds of muscle, he was giving it back as well.
And Brady kept looking in his direction.
“I just want to help the team win,” said Sanu, who spent four years with the Bengals and three and a half with the Falcons. “It’s not about me. I’m here to do a job. And that is whatever the team needs me to do.”
Last weekend was not the time to gloat.
But we can. Sanu will take a lot of pressure off Edelman, maybe even help the running game with extra focus on him.
“I know the plays. I know the gameplan,” said Sanu. “I don’t know about other (receivers) and how they’ve done here. I’m worried about me and doing the things I need to do to help this team win.”