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He had the backup's back

Moss's effort helped QB Cassel to adjust

By Jennifer Toland
Worcester Telegram &Amp; Gazette / September 8, 2008
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FOXBOROUGH - Randy Moss's legs got a pretty good workout yesterday. He caught six passes for 116 yards. He also kept his head and neck moving, too.

After Tom Brady left the game with 7:27 left in the first quarter, Moss eagerly turned toward the door leading to the Patriots' locker room every time he heard the Gillette Stadium crowd cheer.

"I was like a little kid at the candy store hoping to see No. 12 coming out of that door and up those steps," Moss said.

But Brady would not make a Paul Pierce-like return.

It would be up to Matt Cassel to lead the New England offense in the 2008 opener against the Chiefs, and who better to help the beleaguered backup than Moss?

Cassel entered the game with the Patriots pinned at their 2. Sammy Morris lost a yard on first down and was stopped for no gain on second, putting Cassel and his teammates in a precarious third and 11.

Cassel unleashed a 51-yard completion to Moss to give the Patriots some breathing room and get them moving toward the end zone.

"It was actually a play designed to try to get deep into Kansas City's territory," Moss said. "When I came off the ball I saw the corner and the safety squat, meaning they had their feet flat-footed. I just thought I would try and make a play. The offense just executed. I think in this game when you have 11 guys on the same page good things happen.

"It was just an adjustment that I made and hopefully the quarterback saw the adjustment," Moss added. "Like I said, we were all on the same page and we got out of there."

The play helped Cassel settle in and he completed the 98-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Moss for New England's first points of the season. The Patriots held on for a 17-10 win.

"The guys did a great job today," Cassel said. "Randy, all the rest of the receivers. The running backs ran the ball well and the offensive line did an exceptional job up front."

Moss caught three passes from Brady, including a 28-yard reception that he fumbled away during the play when Brady was hurt. Moss was downfield and didn't see what happened to Brady, but he saw the replay of Kansas City safety Bernard Pollard rolling into Brady's left leg.

"Me personally, I think it was dirty," Moss said.

Moss said he didn't know the extent of Brady's injury, only what he saw on the replay.

"It kind of looked bad," Moss said. "I don't know his injury, what happened, how long the injury may affect him or what it may be."

Moss also caught three passes from Cassel, that 51-yarder putting him over the 100-yard receiving mark in the first quarter.

The touchdown was the 126th of his career, tying him with Jim Brown for eighth on the NFL's all-time list.

Moss's 125 receiving touchdowns (he has one on a punt return) rank fourth on the league's all-time list.

Moss, who caught nine passes for 183 yards in the '07 opener, has 56 career 100-yard receiving games, trailing only Jerry Rice (76) and Marvin Harrison (59).

Brady and Moss formed a tremendous, record-setting twosome last season. Brady set an NFL record with 50 touchdown passes, Moss a league mark with 23 TD receptions. Moss set a franchise record with 1,493 receiving yards.

The two formed a tight bond and seeing Brady limp off the field yesterday was tough for Moss.

"Any time you have a starter go down I think it hurts," said Moss, who was elected a captain this week. "Tom being the face of the New England Patriots and Tom being who he is and the competitor that he is, it actually . . . it kind of hurts to be honest with you.

"I know the show must go on and hopefully Matt Cassel is ready to step in. From a team standpoint, we are ready to embrace him and let him lead us."

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