|Randy Moss had nine catches for 145 yards and a touchdown, but it was his leaping, one-handed grab in the third quarter that left his teammates awestruck. (JIM DAVIS/GLOBE STAFF)|
Moss had a big hand in victory
Receiver's spectacular play draws accolades
INDIANAPOLIS - Following New England's 24-20 comeback victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Colts yesterday, Patriots vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli was seen high-fiving Randy Moss and yakking it up with his star receiver.
It emphasized the reason the Patriots traded for the receiver in the offseason - to help them beat their AFC rivals.
Moss made his impact early and late in yesterday's win that improved the Patriots to 9-0.
After a sluggish start, he got the Patriots on the board early in the second quarter.
Moss used his basketball skills to post up for a 4-yard touchdown catch over backup corner Tim Jennings to give the Patriots a 7-3 lead three minutes into the second quarter. The touchdown was his 12th of the season, tying the Patriots' season record set by Stanley Morgan in 1979.
"Any time you throw it to Randy it helps," said quarterback Tom Brady. "He was a big part of the plan, made some great catches, and did a great job on the first touchdown catch."
Moss then sparked the team to its second score with a breathtaking, one-handed catch across the middle on the first play of the team's third possession in the second half.
The play went for only 17 yards, but left teammate Donte' Stallworth in awe.
"He's a beast," said Stallworth, who had two catches for 42 yards, including a 33-yarder that helped set up the winning score. "That was insane. I caught the end of that. I was in on that play. Those are the hardest one-handed catches to make. The ones going across the middle. I was thinking going back to the huddle and saying 'This dude just caught it with one hand.' Randy is not a real fiery guy. He was fired up about that one."
That play sparked an 11-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by a 34-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski to pull the Patriots within 13-10.
"He's been great," said coach Bill Belichick. "He works hard. He is a smart player and competes. He is great in route adjustments. He wants the ball in his hands in big situations. That's the biggest compliment."
The big situation came in the fourth quarter when the team needed its star receiver the most.
Moss, who finished with nine catches for 145 yards, still had more to deliver after his one-handed grab.
With 8:59 left in the game and the Patriots trailing by 10, Moss went to work, running down the left sideline past Colts free safety Antoine Bethea for a 55-yard reception to the 3-yard line.
Three plays later, Brady passed to Wes Welker to make it 20-17.
"We hadn't been throwing it deep much all day. I think we had been picking our spots," Brady said. "Randy had a great release, and he got up on that safety. He was one-on-one with that guy and I just tried to throw it up for him. It was a great catch. That was a big spark for us. I'm glad we scored quickly, because when we got the ball back we had some time for it as well."
Gregory Lee Jr. can be reached at email@example.com