Cincinnati Bengals: Mo Sanu, Mo Problems
Sep 7, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (12) speaks with teammates prior to the game Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Cincinnati Bengals defeated Baltimore Ravens 23-16. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
The Cincinnati Bengals hosted the Atlanta Falcons in the Bengals home opener on Sunday in what appeared to be a potential playoff like match-up. The Falcons were coming off an emotional divisional win against New Orleans while the Bengals were coming off a similar win at Baltimore.
Things were not to come easy in Cincinnati as the Bengals have been without third-year standout wide receiver Marvin Jones all season and lost Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict early in the season opener with a concussion. When game time came, things became even more difficult when the Bengals lost All-Pro receiver A.J. Green, on what looked like an innocuous play, and then lost Burfict after he suffered a stinger. And with these developments, the stage is set for me to talk about how the Bengals offense was stagnant, and though the defense played well, they couldn’t overcome Andy Dalton’s ineptitude and mental errors. That would be the story of two years ago, maybe even last season, but not today.
Dalton looked poised and in control throughout the entire game. Dalton completed 65% of his passes for 253 yards, a touchdown, and zero interceptions. Gio Bernard stepped way up and just continues to make our jaw drop while rookie running back Jeremy Hill carried the ball 17 times for 96 yards and a touchdown. These all helped Dalton keep his cool and poise in the pocket and deliver strike after strike to the thinning receiver corps. Who is going to step up with no Green, and no Tyler Eifert?
Bring in Mohamed Sanu.
Sep 14, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (12) runs for a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons in the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati defeated Atlanta 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
Sanu was hobbled by an ankle injury in his rookie year and took a backseat to Marvin Jones in 2013. With no Jones and now no A.J. Green, Sanu became the prime target. Oh, did I mention he can throw the ball with pinpoint accuracy despite only throwing the ball once a season? Yes, he did that too. Sanu can do it all, and make it look good too. Sanu may have only had three receptions, but it was for an important 84 yards and a touchdown; his touchdown catch was a beauty too. Third and six from the Bengals 24 yard line, Dalton recognizes the Falcons defense is bringing the house and hits Sanu on a short slant.
What does Sanu do? What he does best. Catches the ball in traffic, watches the defender hit the turf, and takes it 76 yards for a touchdown. A great throw by Dalton with pressure in his face, leading Sanu away from the defender, and an even better catch and run by the Bengals third-year player. After the game, Sanu said,
"“Yeah, I’ve got to try to make a play when we’ve got a number of guys down, and we have to have guys step up. I’ve got to be one of those guys.”"
Although his blonde Mohawk hairstyle reminds Bengaldom of the Ochocinco days, Sanu is anything but a showboat. His work ethic and overall grit resonate throughout the Bengals locker room. Cincinnati is becoming more and more known for its unified locker room and players accept the next man up mentality. As long as Mohamed Sanu continues to show good synchronization with Andy Dalton and a willingness to play wherever offensive coordinator Hue Jackson wants him, Mo Sanu will create many Mo Problems for opposing defenses.