After the San Francisco 49ers made light work of the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football, this was Alex Smith responding to a question about the touchdown by 35-year-old football and urban legend Randy Moss:
“I think everybody loved it. Randy made a great play on the corner route there, just to get the first down. Then, all of a sudden he cut back and broke a couple of tackles and took it to the house. You know, he’s still got it. We all talk about it around the facility and he’s shown flashes here and there.”
I’m not old enough to really remember an NFL without Randy Moss. When he came into the league setting NFL records for rookies, catching 17 touchdown passes on 19 yards-per-catch in ’98, I was still on some Nickelodeon, “Keenan & Kel” ish.
That’s how far back everything dates with Randy Moss. Since ’98, he’s been known as the most dangerous deep threat the game has ever seen, and only recently – due to age – has the sentiment faded. Speed isn’t supposed to be the prevailing attribute for a player his age.
So it was easy to bury Moss after an embarrassing 2010 season that saw him play for three different teams (unprecedented for a player of his caliber).
To make it worse, Moss missed the 2011 season and, since returning to the Bay, he’s been pedestrian. The Niners had only targeted him 10 times going into the MNF game, which led to retired running back Derrick Ward embarrassing himself with this tweet:
About a half hour later, Ward was singing a different tune.
The question, even when Moss signed with San Francisco, was if Alex Smith could consistently throw the ball far enough to maximize Moss’ ability; and if a 35-year-old deep threat was something to take seriously.
Legitimate questions. The Niners are killin’ it this season, but Moss and the passing game has had little to nothing to do with it. They’re 28th in the league in passing yards and their longest reception of 55 yards (yesterday’s Moss TD) is tied for 22nd.
This is a strange place to be in: watching Moss play in the background of an old-school style football squad, while being one of the older dudes on the team. It’s still hard to get used to this Moss – the one who’s quiet and considered an afterthought when discussing a Super Bowl contender.
Moss used to be the proverbial symbol for beating a DB down field. In high school, we called it “getting’ Moss’d,” just like successful QB scrambles were considered “pullin’ a Michael Vick.” This supporting-cast-friendly, six games without a touchdown Randy isn’t the one we know.
Nah, this isn’t the Randy Moss that keeps DBs up at night, doesn’t stretch before games, and pays his fines in straight cash, homie.
Good seeing him on Monday night, if only for one play.