My question is: Forget about next year. Does he disappear again Sunday?
No way, said Moss.
|Despite his big reputation, wideout Randy Moss has done little in the postseason. (US Presswire)|
Terrific. Because it's about time.
Moss has one catch in each of the last two playoff games, and, no, that's not like him. Except it is. In four of his last five playoff games he has seven catches and no touchdowns -- and one of those stinkers was against the New York Giants.
OK, so that was the 2000 NFC Championship Game, which was so long ago Tom Brady wasn't the starter in New England. But Moss has been atypically quiet since, making noise only in a Jan. 9, 2005 playoff game against Green Bay.
You can look it up. Philadelphia shut him down in the 2004 divisional playoffs. Jacksonville shut him down in this season's divisional playoffs. And San Diego shut him down in the conference championship game.
The bigger the stage, the smaller Randy Moss -- and what's going on?
"Once teams try to take a certain player out of the game," said Moss, "it's up to the other players to step up and make it happen. The last couple of weeks they've been doubling me and somewhat triple-covering me. It's a team sport, so it's up to the other guys to make things happen."
Actually, no, it's not. It's up to Randy Moss. Because he's the guy who this season set a league record with 23 touchdown catches, and he's the guy who made the critical receptions in come-from-behind wins over Indianapolis and the New York Giants.
He is a difference maker, only he's not making a difference.
Moss insisted he is because opponents are double-covering him, which means someone must be open. Against Jacksonville that someone was Wes Welker, who led the team with nine catches. Against San Diego it was running back Kevin Faulk, who had eight receptions.
But star receivers are double-covered all the time and manage to make more than one play. So when does Randy Moss?
"A lot of our offense," said quarterback Tom Brady, "is built around what the defense is giving us. If they dictate that they are going to try to take one person out of the game, they'll do that.
"I thought San Diego played extremely well. I think Jacksonville did a good job. I'm sure (Moss) was a big point of emphasis. I'm sure that Randy will be a big point of emphasis for the Giants as well.
"But I never lose track of him. I know that he works extremely hard to get open. And I know that he is in the right place, and he wants the ball. We have to find ways to get him the ball because he is an important part of this offense."
Precisely. Against San Diego, the Patriots ran Moss around right end for 14 yards. Big deal. Moss isn't dangerous as a running back; he's dangerous as a wide receiver, particularly as a deep threat. But that's just not happening, folks, and don't ask me why.
It's not as if opponents are just waking up to double and triple teaming the guy. That happened before, and before Moss found holes where his teammates could not. So find them again. That's what playmakers do.
If Moss is, as Brady said, "the smartest offensive football player I've ever been around," then he -- or somebody in red, white and blue -- should figure out how to get him the ball. I mean, he failed to score only three times this season, for crying out loud, and now he can't do anything but catch a couple of passes in the playoffs?
"I don’t think it's a confidence factor," said Moss. "I think it's a game plan. We are all going to have to be working on all cylinders."
The last time the Patriots and Giants met, all were. Moss had six catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns; Welker had 11 catches for 122 yards and Faulk had eight receptions. That's the team concept Moss and Brady are talking about, only now I want to see it happen in the biggest game of Moss' career.
Because I'm not sure it does.
"My process of playing four quarters and not receiving the ball or even seeing the ball ... I think earlier in my career I would've probably tried to voice my opinion in certain plays and certain ways to get open," Moss said. "But I've got younger guys such as Welker, Gaffney and Stallworth -- guys whose bodies are a little fresher than mine.
"I definitely don't have a problem with what they are doing, and I've never had a problem with any of my teammates. Now I know that I'm a little bit older, and their bodies are a little fresher than mine, anything that will contribute to a victory I'm willing."
How about Randy Moss contributing to the victory? I'm waiting.