Moss a non-factor in win over Panthers
|12.14.09 at 2:29 am ET|
FOXBORO — In the first half of Sunday’s game against the Panthers, the sight of Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss sitting all by himself on the bench was a jarring one.
While the rest of the offensive skill position players were on one bench along the New England sideline huddling with coaches, Moss was by himself on the other bench, sitting mostly alone. Occasionally, a teammate would come by, appearing to check on him — usually, it was quarterback Tom Brady — but most of the day, the receiver was by himself.
In the end, it was a forgettable day for the wide receiver, who ended up with one catch for 16 yards in the Patriots 20-10 win over Carolina at Gillette Stadium. The first pass attempt thrown his way — which came late in the first quarter — was dropped. On the next play from scrimmage, a pass for Moss was picked off by Carolina’s Chris Gamble. And Moss fumbled on his next attempt, drawing boos from the sellout crowd.
Moss did not speak with reporters after the game, one of the worst of his two-plus seasons in New England. (He had one catch in four previous games with New England, most recently a 13-0 win over the Bills in Buffalo in last year’s regular-season finale.) One of the four players who were sent home by coach Bill Belichick for showing up late to an 8 a.m. meeting, Moss is the only player of the foursome who hasn’t talked since the incident took place. (The last time he addressed the media was in the wake of a Nov. 30 loss to the Saints in New Orleans.)
However, after the game, Carolina cornerback Chris Gamble told The Boston Globe that the Panthers knew Moss would “shut it down.”
“He’d just give up a lot; slow down; he’s not going deep; not trying to run a route. You can tell (by) his body language,” the paper quoted him as saying. “I know everyone who plays against him, they can sense that. Once you get into him in the beginning of the game, he shuts it down a little bit.”
Moss has had an up-and-down season — after a masterful performance against the Colts on Nov. 15 where he caught nine passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns (his second consecutive 100-plus yard game), he’s had a bad run — he has a total of 11 catches for 183 yards and two touchdowns in the last four games combined.
“He was frustrated in himself and the situation, and it’s just something you’ve got to fight through,” Brady said of Moss, who is second on the team with 1,074 receiving yards. “He keeps fighting through it, and you have those days where it’s not all great, but you keep lining up and you keep going up. You’ve just got to keep fighting.
“If you’re a quarterback, you throw picks, you throw bad balls. If you’re a receiver, you drop balls. If you’re a running back, you fumble balls,” Brady added. “You know, it’s just part of the process and it’s about making the next one a good one and not making the next one another bad one because you’re a little bit down in the dumps.”
The Patriots certainly cannot afford to have Moss shut it down — with three games left in the regular-season, the AFC East is still in doubt, and a locked-in Moss would give a boost to an occasionally inconsistent offense that has struggled at times.
“It’s important for everybody to do their best and play well this time of year,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said when asked about Moss’ performance. “It’s important for the entire football team. It’s important for the coaches to coach well and the players to play well. This is what we work all year for and here we are. We’re in the middle of December, we have three games left and they’re all important. We need everybody.”
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