Fun in game for Moss
Receiver cannot mask his enjoyment
FOXBOROUGH - Two weeks ago, the fans at Gillette Stadium booed Randy Moss during one of the worst games of his career.
The game against the Carolina Panthers was the culmination of a bad week for the receiver, who was sent home Dec. 9 when he and three other Patriots were late for a team meeting. After the game, in which he fumbled following his only reception, his effort was questioned.
But Moss, as he has done throughout his 12-year career, found a way to silence his critics and make up with the hometown faithful.
“Well, the good thing about it, there are going to be some good times and some bad times in football,’’ Moss said. “Just by hearing the fans and the stadium behind me, it felt good, definitely. My last performance here wasn’t really too hot, so the good thing about it is everybody had fun.’’
Moss followed up last week’s five-catch, 70-yard, one-touchdown performance at Buffalo by catching three TD tosses in yesterday’s 35-7 rout of the Jaguars. It was the ninth time in his career that he had three or more scores in a game.
And with just one play in the fourth quarter yesterday, it appears Moss (four catches for 45 yards) got himself back in the good graces of Patriots fans.
He made a catch at the Jaguars’ 1-yard line and despite being tackled, reached the ball over the goal line for a 17-yard score to give the Patriots a 35-0 lead.
The Jaguars challenged the play, and during the delay, Moss was egged on by a fan wearing a Randy Moss mask. The Jumbotron captured the fan impersonating Moss’s signature touchdown celebration.
“It was entertaining,’’ Moss said. “You know, I had a lot of teammates wanting me to mess with the guy. He put a little humor into it and I enjoyed it, man. That’s the thing about having fun. When things go right, you get the fans in the game, you get the players in the game, so it was a stadium full of fun today, and I think we all enjoyed it.’’
In the last two games against the Jaguars, everything has gone right for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who was 23 of 26 for 267 yards and four touchdowns yesterday.
In the last two meetings, Brady has more touchdown passes (7) than incompletions (5). He was 26 of 28 for 262 yards and three TDs in a 31-20 victory over Jacksonville in the 2007 divisional playoffs.
“When we’re completing a lot of passes it’s really a lot of things,’’ Brady said. “It’s guys getting open and great protection and great play-calling, so it makes it pretty easy on me when those guys are standing there wide open, and it’s my job to hit them.’’
Moss was just standing there for his first two touchdown catches. He was alone in the back of the end zone for a 2-yard reception to open the scoring. And on Moss’s second score, he showed his creativity, getting free for a 6-yard TD to give the Patriots a 28-0 lead just before halftime.
“Well, I have seen a lot of coverages,’’ Moss said. “I don’t know if I have seen every coverage that there is to throw at an offense, but I’ve seen a lot in my time. This was just one of those plays where two guys were outside of me and nobody was inside. I think the safety bit down on Wes [Welker’s] little short route. I had seen the opening and I wasn’t supposed to be there, but I took it anyway.’’
The Patriots recognize that a focused Moss is paramount if they are to make a deep postseason run.
“I think any time he scores touchdowns he gets pretty animated,’’ Brady said. “You obviously see the influence he has on the game when he’s able to make those plays, and I think he was really excited all week. He had a great game last week for us [and] one of his best games this week. We’re going to keep needing it. He’s a huge part of this offense and to get him the ball in the end zone, he’s such a big target.’’
Gregory Lee Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org