Randy Moss was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, which was a fitting end for his illustrious career, during which he totaled 986 catches for 15292 yards and 156 touchdowns.
To the mass majority of NFL fans, Moss will be remembered for his two stints in Minnesota, but for Patriots’ fans, we will always look back at his stay in New England from 2007 to 2010.
Moss was dealt to the Pats in 2007 from Oakland in exchange for a fourth-round pick, and he quickly reestablished himself as a force to be reckoned with in his first game as a Patriot, when he beat three Jets’ defenders to score a long touchdown. Moss’ first season in New England was record-breaking as he scored 23 touchdowns (the most by any player in one season in NFL history), as he helped the Patriots accomplish the first perfect regular season in the modern NFL. I can still remember watching him break the record against the New York Giants in Week 17. A few plays prior to the record breaking one, TB12 attempted to find Moss on a deep ball down the sideline, but it fell incomplete. The Pats went back to that play, which resulted in Moss’ record-breaking 23rd touchdown, along with Brady’s record-breaking 50th touchdown. Moss and the 18-0 Patriots would eventually reach Super Bowl XLII, where they played the Giants once again. Patriots’ fans can probably remember the joy they felt when Moss scored a touchdown with 2:45 left in the game to give the Pats a 14-10 lead, and the misery they felt when Tom Brady’s last ditch Hail Mary bounced harmlessly off of Moss’ hands to end the Patriots’ hopes at accomplishing a perfect season.
Moss continued to be efficient during the 2008-09 season, despite playing without Tom Brady who suffered a season-ending injury during the Patriots’ Week 1 victory against the Kansas City Chiefs. One of Moss’ highlights from that season was an awe-inspiring catch in the corner of the end zone to force overtime against the Jets.
During the 2009-10 season, Moss returned to prime form with the return of Tom Brady, with the season opener setting the tone for the rest of the season as he caught a career high 12 catches for 141 yards and 2 touchdowns in a 25-24 comeback victory against the Buffalo Bills. One of the moments I remember from his 2009 season was when he went quiet against the Carolina Panthers in Week 14, as he only caught 1 catch for 16 yards, which led Panthers CB Chris Gamble to question his effort. Moss recovered from that game during the Pats’ Week 15 win against the Bills, as he caught 5 catches for 70 yards and 1 touchdown. I was able to witness one of his best games of the season in person, which was Week 16 against the Jacksonville Jaguars on December 27, 2009. Moss didn’t have an exorbitant amount of yards, as he caught 4 catches for 45 yards, but he did have 3 touchdowns to help lead the Pats to a dominant 35-7 win and another AFC East title. The Jacksonville game also featured Moss having a hilarious exchange with a fan wearing a Randy Moss mask in the stands.
Moss spent very little time in New England during the 2010-11 season (only 2 weeks), as he was sent back to the Vikings for a third-round pick, due to his reported clashes with Patriots’ management and coaches. However, he did have one jaw-dropping highlight from that season, which was when he blew by All-Pro CB Darrelle Revis and snagged a pass from Brady with one hand in the end zone in an eventual Week 2 loss to the Jets.
To sum up Randy Moss’ tenure with the Patriots, I think that the phrase ‘missed potential’ is absolutely on point. His first season with the team showed the rest of the league what they were capable of doing on the offensive side of the ball, but injuries destroyed the Patriots’ chances of competing for a Super Bowl in 2008 and 2009, respectively. The Patriots lost Tom Brady for the 2008 season due to a knee injury, but were still able to go 11-5 with backup QB Matt Cassel at the helm. However, they missed the playoffs due to a tiebreaker with the Miami Dolphins. It’s hard to imagine the same scenario occurring if Brady plays the 2008 season, as he would have likely been able to deliver 1 to 2 more wins, which would have allowed them to compete in the postseason. In 2009, the Patriots entered the playoffs without Moss’ fellow receiver, Wes Welker, which made it hard for the offense to operate without Welker attracting defenders across the middle of the field. This led to a crushing 33-14 loss against the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card Round.
Thanks for the memories, Randy!