Mohamed Sanu has been waiting all season to give a game ball to his baby boy.
The Bengals receiver finally received that opportunity after reaching the end zone for the first time this season Thursday in a 31-10 win over the Browns at a sold-out Paul Brown Stadium.
The 25-yard run on a reverse from Giovani Bernard early in the fourth quarter was Sanu’s first touchdown since Mohamed Jr. was born Aug. 21, a week after his only preseason score and the day before the Bengals receiver’s 26th birthday.
“I told him I would give (the ball) to him when I got to the end zone, and I finally was able to, so I’m going to give it to him when I get home, probably when I see him,” Sanu said after the game.
That touchdown, which came on first down, helped break open the game for the Bengals, who took a 24-10 lead with 13:26 left.
Quarterback Andy Dalton served as the lead blocker on Sanu’s run, and fellow receiver A.J. Green had a block in front of him near the end zone. Sanu ran in untouched.
“As soon as I turned the corner, I saw there was no one there, so I knew there was a chance of making it all the way,” Sanu said. “Andy and A.J. made terrific blocks, and it was just wide open.
“It was just perfect timing, perfect play-call by coach and perfect job by the offensive line and A.J. and Andy.”
Green said he was going to do whatever it took to help Sanu score. Seven other players have already scored at least one touchdown for the Bengals.
“It was good to see him get in the end zone,” Green said. “I was trying to do everything I could to get him in there. Mo time was going to come. It was just a matter of time.”
So how did the play open up? Sanu credited the running backs for the way they ran the ball up to that point. The Bengals finished with 152 yards on 37 carries.
“They over-pursued once they saw Gio had the ball, and Gio flipped it to me, and all I saw in front of me was green turf,” he said.
It was Sanu’s only carry of the game, though he also had three catches for 25 yards. He has 21 catches for 295 yards in eight games but still awaits a touchdown reception.
When asked whether it was more fun to run the ball in than catch a touchdown pass, Sanu said he didn’t have a preference.
“It was just more fun to get in there,” Sanu said. “It has been a little while since I’ve been in there, so it was just fun being in and celebrating with my teammates.”
Sanu did a little touchdown dance and was happy to demonstrate again in the locker room after the game.
“I just wanted to dance and get some motion out there,” Sanu said. “It was just exciting.”