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Moss doesn’t quite catch on in debut

Back with Vikings, he has TD but little else

Quarterback Brett Favre had trouble getting the Vikings on track against the Jets in his return to East Rutherford, N.J., last night. Quarterback Brett Favre had trouble getting the Vikings on track against the Jets in his return to East Rutherford, N.J., last night. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / October 12, 2010

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Randy Moss wasn’t going to speak with the media and had an exchange with one reporter who asked Moss why he wasn’t talking.

When he finally got around to speaking, Moss, wearing a black Red Sox cap, thanked Tom Brady for the text he sent him prior to last night’s game. Although Moss wouldn’t reveal the contents of the text, he brought it up after a reporter asked what happened in New England, with reports that he and Brady had an altercation prior to Moss getting traded.

“Man, Tom sent me a text today,’’ Moss said. “Hey Tom, I know you watching man, I appreciate that text. Sorry we didn’t bring it home, but I appreciate it.’’

Moss caught four passes for 81 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown pass from Brett Favre, the 500th of Favre’s career, in Minnesota’s 29-20 loss to the Jets at the New Meadowlands. Favre also became the first player to throw for 70,000 yards.

Moss had nine passes thrown his way, although he acknowledged he didn’t know the playbook after spending only three days in the Vikings camp.

“[Favre] was trying to keep me in tune with the game and told me what plays he was calling,’’ Moss said. “It’s been a tough week, kind of worn out, man. I’ve put a lot into this. I just want to stay on the same page with the offense. Being here only three or four days it had me nervous but I tried to study hard this week. Some [plays] I knew, some I didn’t. I’m not sure we ad-libbed out there, but . . . It was tough leaving my family and moving and trying to learn a new system. I think they expected me to get 20-30 plays but I probably doubled that.’’

Moss received intense coverage from Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who shadowed Moss the entire game, a surprise since All-Pro Darrelle Revis returned to action after missing two games because of a hamstring injury.

“I kind of knew all week in the back of my mind I’d get Cromartie and I did,’’ Moss said. “The corners with Revis and Cromartie, that’s a nice combination. Reminds me of the old KC Chiefs when they had Dale Carter and James Hasty. I give credit to both of those guys and what they’re doing and hopefully I’ll see them again.’’

Moss thought the Vikings “shot ourselves in the foot in the first half. We played a half of football and we’ve got to play 60 minutes of football.’’

Until Moss burned Cromartie on the touchdown pass with 2:10 remaining in the third quarter, the play that defined Moss’s return to the Vikings was his 9-yard pass off a double reverse that was called back because of a penalty to open the game.

Yeah, Randy Moss passing the ball. That’s the ticket.

It looked as though Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell racked his brain trying to come up with a play that would truly christen Moss’s return to Minnesota and make it, well, memorable.

Moss’s throw to Favre in the right flat worked, but the Vikings were called for an ineligible receiver (Favre) downfield. The rest of the first half didn’t get much better as the Vikings offense sputtered while Moss found himself covered tightly by Cromartie, who drew the assignment over Darrelle Revis, who was playing through a hamstring injury.

Favre, who had trouble handling the ball in wet weather, made good on his promise to throw the ball Moss’s way. After a few failed connections, Moss caught his first pass with 4:15 left in the first half, a 7-yard gain that gave the Vikings a first down at the 43. Moss, who spent much of the first half split left, worked both sides in the second half.

Favre hit Moss for 16 yards on Minnesota’s first touchdown drive. On the TD catch, Moss sprinted down the right sideline, got a step on Cromartie, and caught Favre’s pinpoint pass in the end zone.

During the fourth-quarter touchdown drive in which the Vikings pulled to 22-20, Moss only participated in two plays and there was some speculation Moss might have been nicked up.

The Jets came out with Cromartie, not Revis, on Moss and the one-on-one coverage was intense.

The first time Moss had the ball thrown his way was with 4:08 left in the first quarter, when Moss broke down the left sideline being held by Cromartie, who was able to break up the play. On third down, Favre was clobbered by safety Drew Coleman on a blitz for a 7-yard loss.

All the talk of Moss’s presence opening up opportunities for the Vikings offense didn’t show up in the first quarter, with Favre either scrambling for his life or linemen unable to get in synch with the snap count. But Moss’s presence did help in the fourth quarter when Moss and Percy Harvin crossed in their patterns, and Harvin was the recipient of a 34-yard touchdown pass that pulled the Vikings to 15-13.

There weren’t many Vikings fans who made the trek to New Jersey for Moss’s debut, likely because of the sudden nature of the receiver’s trade from the Patriots. It was Moss’s second game against the Jets this season, the first time in New England’s 28-14 loss in which Moss was made a one-handed 34-yard touchdown catch, beating Revis on the play. Revis reinjured his balky hamstring while defending that pass.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.

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