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Wednesday, December 16, 2009
More from Merril Hoge on Moss

By Mike Reiss

ESPN analyst Merril Hoge said convincingly today: "The first thing to put down is that Randy Moss did not take one play off. Not one play."

Hoge went on to say that he felt Moss' effort in the Patriots' 20-10 victory over the Panthers was "one of his better games without the ball in his hands," as he delivered key blocks on receiver screens and in the running game.

"I've been watching Randy Moss since he first came into the league, and initially, when I first put in the tape, the first thing that struck me was that the Carolina Panthers were playing him similar to how the Chicago Bears did when he was in Minnesota," Hoge said.

"They would ride up a corner and press him at the line of scrimmage and then play a safety to that side anywhere from 20 to 25 yards over the top, which is a presnap indicator that you can forget the long ball, don’t even think about it. Give or take a little, I would say about 60 percent of the time, Tom Brady didn't work to his side because of that. You can start there, because the coverage dictated not to throw there.

"The interception that so many people are talking about, it looks like he didn't run a very good route. It wasn't spectacular. He could have come out of his break sharper. But when you start watching coaching tape, two things pop out over the bad route. First, you look at where the corner is playing. He's already playing outside technique, sitting where the route is going. So you could argue that you don't want to make the throw because of how the corner is playing.

"On top of that, when you look at the end-zone angle, Julius Peppers gets inside pressure right away and is getting his hands near the face of Brady when he's about to step into his throw. Brady pulls his left leg and wheels on the throw. When you wheel on that, the ball sails and you can't be accurate and decisive like that.

"So when you list things out in order, number one, it's a bad throw based on pressure. Number two, you look at the way the corner is playing and you can see why it's not the most decisive route. I'm not making excuses for him -- it was a bad route -- but when I look at the play the route is number three on the list."