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But after seeing Moss and the Pats dismantle the Jets, 38-14, it's the rest of the NFL that figures to experience some queasiness this year when confronted by the Patriots' newest offensive weapon. "When I came [to the Patriots]," Moss said of the April trade that rescued him from his humbling two-year experience in Oakland, "I said that I wanted to showcase my talents again. And I think, today, that I did that."
|The Jets tried to use single coverage on Moss for most of Sunday's opener. It didn't work.|
"Frightening," Vilma said. "I mean, it's scary."Brady completed 22 of 28 passes for 297 yards, with three touchdown passes and no interceptions. His passer efficiency rating, 146.6, was the third-best of his career. Sixteen of his completions, for 263 yards and two scores, went to wideouts acquired by the Patriots in the offseason via trade or free agency. On most occasions, Brady, who did not suffer a sack, had ample time to survey the entire field and deliberately go through every one of his progressions. "There are a lot of pretty good [receivers] out there to pick from," Brady said. "Any one of them, I feel like, could go out and have a big day."
In his New England debut, Moss' day was absolutely huge.Inexplicably, the New York coaches opted to play more single coverage against Moss than the Patriots expected. In addition, a Jets defense that blitzed Brady on 28 of 36 "dropbacks" in the wild-card playoff matchup between the teams last season didn't come with anything approximating that pressure philosophy Sunday. The result was a secondary that too often, particularly for overmatched Barrett, was hung out to dry. "We were just trying to use all our skill-position players offensively," said Pats coach Bill Belichick. Just days after his team acquired Moss from Oakland for a fourth-round draft pick, Belichick detailed for ESPN.com his plans for using the five-time Pro Bowl receiver. One of the things Belichick emphasized most -- that Moss was expected to learn every wideout position in the playbook -- resonated Sunday afternoon. Moss lined up wide left, wide right and in both slots, and he caught at least one pass from each of those four starting points. And because Moss naturally draws the attention of any defense, opportunities will be created for the Patriots' other playmakers. On Sunday's first touchdown, for instance, Moss and Donte' Stallworth were flanked wide to the right while Wes Welker, the lone receiver to the left of the formation, drew single coverage. Welker easily caught a short pass from Brady and scored from 11 yards. "I just think that [defenders] are going to follow him wherever he goes," said Welker, acquired last spring in a trade with Miami. With the locker room all but emptied out Sunday evening, Belichick was asked when he knew the gimpy Moss would be sufficiently recovered from his hamstring injury to play in the opener. "Oh, early in camp, sure," Belichick said. "I mean, it wasn't like that injury was career-threatening or anything." After Sunday's performance, the only careers that might be threatened are those of the cornerbacks who'll have to cover Moss this season.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.