• Anybody else get the feeling we're starting to see signs the last two weeks of the old, indifferent Randy Moss when it comes to his effort level? All I know is what my eyes tell me, but I've seen Moss pose less than a disruptive presence on two of Tom Brady's recent interceptions -- the one rookie Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis snagged in the Miami end zone last week, and the one Carolina's Chris Gamble pilfered Sunday in the first quarter at the Patriots 48.
Moss just didn't fight for either ball, pretty much allowing the defender to make the play without him using his 6-foot-4 frame to increase the degree of difficulty of the catch. Moss was booed by the faithful at Gillette Stadium, and it didn't help his cause one bit that he fumbled away a first-half 16-yard catch.
Are those plays windows into Moss's soul and his current state of commitment level? Has he partially checked out in any way, convinced perhaps that New England's Super Bowl hopes are fading away? We can't know the answer to those questions, but it is worth noting that Moss was one of the four Patriots sent home Wednesday morning after arriving minutes late for a team meeting.
• The Patriots did what they had to do to scratch out an ugly 20-10 win over a Carolina team playing its backup quarterback, but these really don't look anything like the Patriots that have largely dominated this NFL decade.
I will say this: Tom Brady made a very good decision in the third quarter when he decided to throw the ball only to Wes Welker. Brady completed 19 of 34 passes in the game for 192 yards and a touchdown. But all but 10 of his completions went to the dependable Welker, who produced 105 yards and now is the fourth player in NFL history with three consecutive 100-catch seasons.
Given the funk that Moss appears to be in, I would expect Brady to continue to target Welker on at least half of his passes.
• What a stunner, Adalius Thomas being ruled inactive Sunday after daring to publicly question the wisdom of Bill Belichick's methods of coaching discipline. Bye-bye, Adalius. If you thought being sent home on Wednesday was embarrassing, then you probably won't like sitting the pine the rest of the year and being sent packing this offseason.
Then again, the problem with Thomas for the past three seasons in New England has been that even when he's active, he's not very active.
• Speaking of veteran free-agent acquisitions who have done little to earn their money in New England, Shawn Springs actually started at cornerback for the Patriots against Carolina, his first action in a month.
Alas, his luck didn't hold. He briefly left the game with an injury, then returned in time to surrender a 41-yard Matt Moore touchdown pass to Steve Smith.
• Another week, another fourth-down call that went awry for the Patriots. We get it, Bill. You like to go for it on fourth down. But stop trying to prove it every chance you get.• What has gotten into Laurence Maroney? He looks like a real NFL running back these days. Running north and south, lowering his shoulder for extra yardage, catching the ball out of the backfield. Where's that been the last three years or so?