|This acrobatic move by Randy Moss was good for a 7-yard touchdown and a 17-7 lead in the second quarter. (MATTHEW J. LEE/GLOBE STAFF)|
Moss sticks with pattern
This time, he has 9 catches, 2 TDs
CINCINNATI - Perhaps the rest of the teams in the National Football League would like to reconsider their decision to not have a 30-year-old future Hall of Fame receiver on their roster.
Once again last night, Randy Moss rewarded the Patriots for their perceived gamble in acquiring the mercurial talent with his fourth straight 100-plus-yard receiving game (a club record) and by doing what he does best - scoring touchdowns - with two more against a demoralized Cincinnati defense.
Moss, who has seven touchdowns this season, is on pace to surpass his career-high output of 17 when he debuted with the Vikings in 1998 and which he matched in 2003.
Last night, Moss was featured differently than in the first three games, when he was the centerpiece of the Patriots' aerial show. Against the Bengals, his role was that of a closer.
His first touchdown, in the second quarter - a 7-yard leap and toe-dance along the left sideline - came after the Patriots battered the Bengals with eight consecutive runs by Sammy Morris.
"I just tried to throw it as high as I can," said quarterback Tom Brady. "I think I was aiming for the third row in the stands. He just jumped up and grabbed it. He has great leaping ability and great timing on it. He has a sense for when that ball is coming.
"Any time you're facing a cornerback who is not quite his size, you just to try [to put] it up there so he can go up and get it.
"He's done that in practice quite a bit. When you're 6 foot 5 and you have a 35-inch vertical leap and a huge wingspan and great hands, there are only so many places you can defend.
"He just made a great catch. I think the great thing was coming down with his feet inbounds."
His second TD - a 14-yarder in the fourth quarter - put the exclamation point on a dominating offensive effort by the Patriots.
"He makes the same plays in practice that he makes in games," coach Bill Belichick said. "Randy is smart. He has great hands, and he is very instinctive. Randy can catch the ball and has a great vertical game."
Moss, who became the 27th player in league history to catch 700 passes when he made a 17-yard grab in the first quarter, finished with nine catches for 102 yards.
"He doesn't drop any balls," said Brady, who has thrown 34 passes Moss's way, completing 31. "He's a great receiver. He commands double coverage quite a bit and finds ways to beat double coverage.
"If they double-cover him, he's always a threat to go deep. If they play deep, we can throw it underneath. He has deceptively quick moves on the line of scrimmage. He's a great threat out there."
Four games into the season, Moss (505 receiving yards) has proven to critics that when challenged he can deliver, and that he was a steal for only fourth-round pick.
Said fullback Heath Evans, "Obviously I only know what I've seen here, but I see a guy who asks questions in team meetings, I see a guy who seems to be in his playbook because he knows it.
"I see a guy that is constantly challenging other people, whether it's defensive backs or other wide receivers, to step up to the plate. I see a guy that works hard, who knows how he needs to work. Those intangibles are hard to find and they're all in one guy.
"What he's done here, I couldn't have a better teammate."