Deatrich Wise Jr. worked his way into some history Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
It transpired 35 yards from the end zone, on third-and-7 with 11:56 to play in the third quarter, as the Arkansas product loomed wide across from Andrus Peat.
The shotgun snap was handled and around the arc Wise traveled, strong-arming Peat until the 6-foot-7, 316-pound interim left tackle’s back was facing the line of scrimmage.
Wise was facing the back of Drew Brees by then.
Brees may not have seen him amongst the five-man rush. But he soon felt him.
With one glove, Wise ripped the 38-year-old New Orleans Saints quarterback down by the shoulder pads for a drive-killing loss of eight yards. And in the process, the 23-year-old New England Patriots defensive end became just the second player in the Bill Belichick era to notch a sack in both Week 1 and Week 2 of his respective rookie season.
The other? Chandler Jones.
Not a bad reference point for Wise at this stage.
Taken No. 21 overall out of Syracuse, Jones began his tenure with a strip-sack on Jake Locker and followed up with another on Kevin Kolb in September 2012. He went on to collect 36 sacks and Pro Bowl honors by the time New England traded him to Arizona in early 2016.
Wise, a fourth-round pick in April, isn’t Jones. He isn’t a starter yet, either.
"I am still learning every day,” Wise, who missed part of training camp with a concussion, told reporters afterwards, via Patriots.com. “I am really behind right now. I've got to catch up. I am still learning. I'm a rookie, so I still have a lot to learn about the game, about the playbook, and about this whole thing."
But learning on the job has proven effective. Wise has deployed his wingspan, heavy hands, and build-up to hit home from the four- to the seven-technique. And he’s found a home along a line led by another Razorback, Trey Flowers, who tallied two sacks as the regular season kicked off against the Kansas City Chiefs two Thursdays ago.
Wise was the one who kept Flowers from getting a third during that 42-27 primetime defeat to Kansas City. The former fell on Alex Smith for a clean-up loss of 12 yards before the latter could earn credit.
While Wise’s first sack as a pro didn’t arrive with the dominance of his second – Smith tripped as he bided his time in a combination block – it still counted. It still saw him join Jones, Jarvis Green, Malcom Brown and Vincent Valentine as the fifth Patriots rookie to record one in an opener since 2000.
Wise will now look to make it three in a row against the Houston Texans and fellow NFL newcomer Deshaun Watson next weekend.
Doing so would put him in a post-2000 Patriots club of his own.
“I still think there's a long way to go, a lot of things that he can improve on,” Belichick said of the 6-foot-5, 271-pound Wise on his Monday conference call. “But if he continues to work hard at it like he has been, then hopefully each week we'll be able to see some improvement and better techniques and better fundamentals in all of the different areas of the game – not just pass rush, but the running game and playing combination blocks and all the different sorts of things that come into really the heart of the issue, which is playing with good pad level, pad-level leverage and technique.”
Wise finished off the Patriots’ 36-20 win over the Saints with five quarterback hits and a tackle for loss to go with his second sack. He played 28 of the defense’s 65 snaps.
He set himself up for more.