The Hot List: Moss’ most memorable receptions as a Patriot
|09.21.10 at 2:04 pm ET|
The 34-yard, one-handed touchdown grab Randy Moss made late in the first half of Sunday’s loss to the Jets was a great reception, but where does it rank on the list of his best catches as a Patriot? This week’s Hot List puts it in perspective:
5. Moss escapes Revis Island. Sept. 19, 2010: The offensive highlight of an otherwise disappointing afternoon for the Patriots’ passing game, Moss was able to one-up his rival with a 34-yard touchdown catch, the first of the season and 150th of his career.
With one minute left in the first half and the Patriots in a 1st and 10 on the New York 34-yard line, Moss lined up on the right side against his old foe Darrelle Revis. Coming off the line, Moss beat the cornerback, flipping his around and causing him to lose a step. That small separation was all Moss needed, and he raced past him toward the end zone.
The ball from quarterback Tom Brady was delivered a little high, but Moss reached up with his right hand and made the grab — he never using his left hand the entire sequence. Meanwhile, it was the last play of the day for Revis, who grabbed his hamstring and left for the sideline.
“It was just everyday work. I don’t know,” Moss shrugged after the game, a 28-14 loss for the Patriots. “I don’t have anything really to say. It was just making a play.
“My job is to go out here and move the ball and score touchdowns, and I don’t think I did a good job of that today, so, regardless of the touchdown, the one-handed catch … my teammates commended me on it, but we didn’t win the game. Like I said, I didn’t really care too much about it. We lost the game.”
“I’m just saying that I’ve seen him do that a number of times where he’s running full stride and the ball is out in front of him and he reaches out with one hand and grabs it,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said the next day. “The first time it happened, it was like, ‘Oh, my God.’ Then you see it again. I’m not saying it’s a routine play, I don’t mean it that way. I’m just talking about those of us who are in practice and watch Randy. I’ve seen him make that play a number of times.”
4. Over the middle against the Colts, Nov. 4, 2007: Contextually, it wasn’t nearly as important as some of the others on the list, but aesthetically, it was maybe his most amazing grab in his three-plus seasons in New England.
The Patriots were down 13-7 early in the third, and were backed up, facing a first-and-10 from their 9-yard line. Brady dropped back to pass, took a three-step drop and found Moss over the middle. Even though the ball was slightly overthrown, Moss went up for it and snagged it with his right hand, bringing it back in before landing on the turf and getting hit by an Indianapolis defensive back. (The catch, which went for 17 yards, would spark a drive that ended in a 34-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski.) The day after the game, Belichick sounded a lot like he did earlier this week when describing the catch over Revis — he marveled at the reception, but added that it wasn’t one of the first times he saw that sort of catch over the middle.
“I can tell you, though, standing out here at practice, anybody will tell you that’s not the first one. It’s not the 10th one,” Belichick said of the catch, which helped spark a 24-20 win over Indy. “Honestly, he does that on a pretty regular basis. … If that’s how he can get it, then that’s how he gets it. … [But] no, you usually don’t see that coming over the middle.”
3. Moss forces overtime against Jets, Nov. 13, 2008: The only catch on this list that didn’t come on a ball thrown by Brady, this reception is unique because it wasn’t a typical Moss reception — instead of working as a deep threat, Moss caught the ball against the sideline and was able to keep his feet inbounds to score a clutch touchdown that ended up forcing overtime.
Matt Cassel (who had the best game of his career with 400 yards passing and 62 yards on the ground) engineered a drive that had the Patriots on the New York 16-yard line. New England was trailing, 31-24, and facing a fourth down when Cassel sidestepped the rush and rolled right. He zipped the ball to Moss, who was boxing out Ty Law along the right pylon for the score with one second left. Moss caught the ball as he was falling out of bounds, a reception later described by the esteemed Paul Zimmerman of Sports Illustrated as “a reaching, leaning masterpiece of a catch.” After a review, the play stood.
2. You never forget your first, Sept. 9, 2007: Moss’ first touchdown reception as a Patriot was a thunderclap, an offensive explosion that heralded the return of the vertical passing game to New England.
The Patriots led the Jets 21-7 midway through the third quarter when Brady dropped back on a 2nd and 6 from the New England 49. Moss had enjoyed good success against the Jets’ secondary all day, but to this point, the Patriots’ hadn’t really tried to go deep. But Moss kept running and running and running, right through the New York secondary. And Brady let fly.
“Randy slipped behind the backup safety and ran behind the defense,” Brady said. “I threw it about as far as I could throw it.”
The ball dropped neatly into Moss’s hands while the receiver was in full stride, and he cruised past three defenders into the end zone. He would finish his first game with the Patriots with nine catches for 183 yards, which included the 51-yard touchdown catch.
1. Brady to Moss against Giants in 2007 regular-season finale, Dec. 29, 2007: Taking into account everything surrounding this catch, it’s a safe bet to call this one the best.
With just over 11 minutes left in regulation, the Patriots were trailing the Giants 28-23. Moss and Brady had just missed on a deep pass down the right sideline, with Moss having to reach back to try and make a fingertip grab off the turf. However, he appeared to drop the ball. (Moss and Brady later agreed the ball was underthrown.) That set up a 3rd and 10 for the Patriots at their own 35.
“I had to redeem myself,” Brady would later say.
On the next play, redemption was his when Brady delivered a clean 65-yard pass to Moss down the same sideline as the previous play. The receiver gathered in the ball and raced past Giants’ safety James Butler for the touchdown, which gave the Patriots a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
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