Commentary

Moss keeps Miami at arm's length

His 71-yard touchdown turned game's momentum

Updated: November 9, 2009, 10:08 AM ET
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots receiver Randy Moss stepped onto the podium in front of the assembled media after Sunday's 27-17 win over the Miami Dolphins and announced he'd be taking only two questions.

When a reporter tried to sneak in a third, Moss left the room in the middle of the question, leaving the flabbergasted media behind him, much as he had left the helpless Vontae Davis in his wake during Moss' pivotal 71-yard touchdown reception a short time before.

Fortunately for the media, Moss broke down his game-changing play before departing.

"Just a play we executed," Moss said. "It was the play we called, and everybody did what they had to do. Seventy-one yards later it was a touchdown.

"So you really have to commend all 11 guys, because I've said it before, if you've got 11 guys working together, anything is possible. That's what we tried to do here, just execute on offense. Everybody did everything right on that play and you saw the result."

The result was what proved to be the winning score. And the way it played out might have been the most demoralizing part for the Dolphins.

[+] EnlargeRandy Moss
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesRandy Moss, who finished with six catches for 147 yards, joined Terrell Owens in second place all time with 140 career TD catches.
Coming out of halftime, Miami embarked on a monster 16-play, 66-yard drive that covered a whopping 10 minutes and 9 seconds and was capped by running back Ronnie Brown's 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Joey Haynos that gave the Dolphins a 17-16 lead.

The Dolphins' offense barely had time to find a spot on the bench, thanks to Moss. With the Patriots facing a third-and-1 (and potential three-and-out) on their ensuing series, Moss lined up to Tom Brady's right and motioned in toward the line. Both Moss and Wes Welker ran crossing routes and Brady hit Moss near the Patriots' 40 with Davis, a rookie cornerback, chasing across the field. Moss switched the ball to his left arm and turned to deliver a jarring stiff-arm to Davis, then kicked up his feet to prevent being tripped up. There was nothing but open space in front of him.

Said Moss: "Wes was on the other side, and he took the safety to his side, so the good thing about it is we run decoy routes, and we get other people open. So when good things happen, we all get a pat on the back."

All of the verbal pats on the back, at least from Welker and Brady, went to Moss.

Said Welker: "Being able to stiff-arm that guy and then get his legs up, he's a savvy player and knows when players are around. He was able to turn that into a big play for us where we needed an answer, and he really came through on that."

Brady simply admired the view, watching Moss run free.

"He's so fast," Brady said. "I got it to him with a little bit of space and they were in man coverage. We ran some crossing routes, so he caught it and took it the distance.

"It's always nice for a quarterback when you can see the back of 81 sprinting down the field once he gets by them. There's not too many guys that can catch him."

Moss added a 2-point conversion reception to put the Patriots on top 24-17. The Dolphins wouldn't admit the play deflated them, but it sure didn't help their cause.

"I wouldn't say it took the air out of us, but it was a big play that hurt," defensive end Kendall Langford said. "That one play didn't beat us; they're a good team."

But Patriots guard Logan Mankins wasn't buying it. "That's like getting stabbed in the heart," Mankins said of Moss' touchdown. "You grind it out for like 10 minutes, finally score, and then your defense goes out there and lets up a score in like a minute and a half. That's got to be pretty deflating."'

Moss finished with six catches for 147 yards and climbed a little higher in the NFL record books, which is becoming a regular occurrence.

Moss became the third player in NFL history to reach 140 career receiving touchdowns (tying Terrell Owens for second place; Jerry Rice is No. 1 at 197). What's more, Moss jumped to sixth place all-time in career receiving yards (13,925) leapfrogging Henry Ellard and former Minnesota teammate Cris Carter.

Davis did a good job on Moss during the first half, defending a pair of deep balls and intercepting one with a spectacular effort in the first quarter. Davis injured his quad covering Moss deep in the second quarter, which might have contributed to his being a step too slow in the second half.

Said Davis: "No, I wasn't mentally defeated. I had to be confident in my game. I knew he was going to make his plays, and I just tried to limit him the best I could. That's Randy Moss -- he's going to make his plays."

Chris Forsberg is a roving reporter for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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