1:00 PM ET, November 14, 2010
Sun Life Stadium, Miami, FL
When Randy Moss last walked off the field at Miami's Sun Life Stadium, he did so after failing to record a catch for the first time since 2006.
That was just more than a month -- and two uniforms -- ago.
After wearing out his welcome with two playoff hopefuls, Moss' bizarre season continues Sunday in south Florida with the first-place Tennessee Titans, who hope the mercurial wideout can deliver immediately against the Dolphins.
Moss wasn't happy with New England's decision to not extend his contract in the offseason, and the future Hall of Famer wasn't quite his dominant self in the team's first three games, totaling nine catches.
For the first time in his Patriots career, he didn't catch anything in the team's 41-14 Monday night win at Miami in Week 4, and two days later was shipped to Minnesota.
Moss caught 13 passes in four games with the team that drafted him in 1998, but was released two days after the Vikings' Week 8 game in -- where else? -- New England.
The Titans (5-3), who lost emerging wideout Kenny Britt to a hamstring injury in a 33-25 loss at San Diego that week, were the only team to put in a claim for the player with the second-most receiving TDs in NFL history.
"He's heard great things about the locker room, and I don't see a risk at all," coach Jeff Fisher said. "He's a very good football player who became available to us, and it's a new start. It's a new start for him, and it's an opportunity for us to get better offensively."
Moss should certainly bolster the Titans' 26th-ranked passing offense (187.6 yards per game), but it's not as if Tennessee hasn't been putting points on the board. It's the top-scoring team in the league, averaging 28.0 points, and is tied atop the AFC South with Indianapolis.
Fisher doesn't expect Moss to know the entire playbook Sunday, but his presence could provide running room for Chris Johnson. The NFL's reigning Offensive Player of the Year is the league's fifth-leading rusher with 721 yards, but a sore thigh has kept him from matching the spectacular play of his last eight games of 2009, when he had 1,047 yards.
"I know for a fact they can't put all those guys in the box with (Randy) out there," Johnson said.
Breaking a big run against the Dolphins (4-4) won't be easy. They've allowed two runs of 20 yards or more -- third fewest in the league.
Miami has given up nine plays of 25 yards or more through the air in the past four weeks, something Moss could help exploit. The Titans' Vince Young is the AFC's highest-rated passer at 103.1 and hasn't turned the ball over in his last five games.
Young, though, has struggled with health problems of late. He missed the Week 7 win over Philadelphia with a sprained knee and ankle, then aggravated the ankle against the Chargers after throwing for a season-high 253 yards and two scores.
Young is expected to be ready for Sunday. If he's not, Kerry Collins -- who hooked up with Moss for seven touchdowns in Oakland in 2005 -- will start.
The Dolphins (4-4) return home after a two-game road swing, but Sun Life Stadium hasn't been kind to coach Tony Sparano's team. Miami is 0-3 at home, with losses to the Patriots, Steelers and New York Jets -- all 6-2.
Another 6-2 team ruined Miami's perfect road record Sunday. Baltimore scored on its opening drive and picked off Chad Henne three times in a 26-10 victory.
"I think it's obvious: Right now, we can't beat the great teams, we can't beat the good teams," said receiver Brandon Marshall, who has one touchdown after scoring 10 last season with Denver. "I can't put my finger on it. We just shoot ourselves in the foot."
A major reason for the team's problems are giveaways. The Dolphins have a minus-eight turnover ratio in losses and are plus-one in wins.
That has led to a quarterback change for Miami, as Sparano will turn to veteran Chad Pennington to start over Henne -- who has thrown 10 interceptions -- this week. Pennington, who combined with Moss to form a dynamic combination at Marshall in the late 1990s, helped the Dolphins reach the playoffs in 2008, when he threw for a career-best 3,653 yards.
While the Titans have produced 13 interceptions -- tied for third most in the league -- the Dolphins have picked off only five passes.
Not satisfied with the secondary, Miami released cornerback Jason Allen, a former first-round pick, this week. It then signed veteran Al Harris, who was recently let go by Green Bay and hasn't played since suffering a knee injury last November.
Henne was intercepted three times in the Dolphins' 27-24 overtime loss at Tennessee on Dec. 20, while Young had three touchdown passes.
Miami has won five of six home matchups in the series.
Titans-Dolphins: 10 observations
After breaking down film of both teams, Scouts Inc. offers 10 things to watch in this week's Titans-Dolphins matchup.
1. Tennessee needs to get Chris Johnson going early: The Titans' offense is built around Johnson. In Tennessee's last loss, he was held to only 59 yards rushing. Look for Johnson to touch the ball early and often in order to control the clock on the road against a stingy run defense.
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|Avg Points Allowed||19.9||21.3|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||TEN|
|Rush Yds Allowed||TEN|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Miami leads 4-3|
|Dec 20, 2009||TEN 27, MIA 24|
|Sep 24, 2006||TEN 10, @MIA 13|
|Dec 24, 2005||TEN 10, @MIA 24|
|Sep 11, 2004||TEN 17, @MIA 7|
|Nov 9, 2003||TEN 31, MIA 7|
|Sep 9, 2001||TEN 23, MIA 31|
Chad Pennington returns as starting QB of the Dolphins, where he went 11-5 in 2008, leading the Dolphins to the AFC East title. Last year he went 0-3 before ending his season with shoulder surgery.
|* 11-5 in 2008 (won AFC East)|
ESPN Stats & Information