This play nearly sums up Moss’ brief stint with the Vikings. The talent is still there, but the effort and dedication were suspect.
Even with Merriweather’s interference, that should have been an easy touchdown. Moss lost his balance upon contact, but quickly regained his footing. If he had kept running and put out his arms instead of loafing, he scores with ease. Instead, he slowed to a jog and seemed to avoid the ball as it descended on the goal line (it’s particularly noticeable on the replay that begins 24 seconds into the clip). Whatever the reason for quitting on the play, Moss cost his team a touchdown.
In the box score, the damage was negligible. Four plays after Moss dogged it, the Vikings scored a touchdown. After a successful two-point conversion, the Patriots’ lead was narrowed to three points. But the box score doesn’t tell the whole story.
After the play in question and before the touchdown, Brett Favre was hit by Myron Pryor(notes) and had to be carted off the field. That injury never happens if Randy Moss catches that touchdown pass. And if that injury never happens, perhaps the Vikings defense makes a stand on the next Patriots drive and the Vikings get the ball back and go on to victory. (True, Favre doesn’t play defense, but don’t tell me the sight of their quarterback getting carted off the field didn’t demoralize the Vikings.) Or maybe everything happens the exact same way and the Vikings still lose. I don’t know.
What I do know is that Randy Moss gave up on that play, gave a bizarre press conference afterwards and now he’s out of a job. It wasn’t just the play, or just the press conference, it was a combination of those things, plus all the baggage that Moss brought with him to Minnesota. His actions on and off the field seemed to be those of a man who was all but begging for his release.
Up until Sunday, his talent made the drama worth putting up with. Not anymore.
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