It's hard to say that any matchup in a game featuring Brett Favre going against his former team and Adrian Peterson vs. the Jets tandem of LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene can be considered a no-brainer. But, there is one that supersedes them all. The one-on-one battle between new Viking Randy Moss and Jets shutdown cornerback Darrelle Revis is the clear-cut key matchup Monday night.
There is no doubting that Moss wants to make a big splash in his first game since rejoining the Vikings. He has always seemed to bring his best when motivated and under the national microscope when playing in prime time. He has reasserted his spot as the most dangerous wide receiver over and over again when the lights are shining their brightest. He has succeeded at every level of his career, with one notable exception – when he is marooned on Revis Island.
Revis acquired his nickname the old-fashioned way – he earned it. First with Eric Mangini and now with Rex Ryan, both head coaches have shown the confidence in Revis to take away the star receiver of an opponent. Revis has stood tall against the likes of Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne and won the battles and has limited Moss as consistently as any corner in the league during Moss' career.
Since the start of the 2008 season, Moss and Revis have met up five times when Moss was with the Patriots. In those five games, Moss has scored three touchdowns, including a spectacular one-handed touchdown catch in Week 2. However, Revis has won the war on every occasion, limiting Moss to the following reception and yardage numbers – 2-for-38, 4-for-24, 5-for-34, 2-for-22 and 3-for-26. Those numbers are amazing considering how important Moss was to the Patriots offense during that span. Only one game with more than four catches and no game with 40 receiving yards. If you're looking for the definition of a shut-down corner, Revis is the guy.
The only good news for the Vikings in terms of Revis is that he has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury. He practiced fully all week and is expected to be ready for Monday night's game. Whether or not he will be limited in his mobility is uncertain, but you can bet the Vikings are going to test him early to see if he it at the typical Revis Island standards.
Both teams need a win to put a stamp on their season. A Jets win would move them to 4-1 with wins over all three division opponents. A loss would drop them out of first, a half-game behind the 3-1 Patriots, who are on their bye this week. A win for the Vikings would push them back to 2-2 and reignite their season. A loss would drop them to 1-3 and make the hole they have dug for themselves into a canyon.
This is a game with all the earmarks of being a hard-hitting, defense-dominated game. As a result, big plays will be at a premium. That is Moss' bread-and-butter and Revis' calling card. Something will have to give as these two premier players square off mano-a-mano for the entire game. This the key matchup above all others.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Key matchup: Randy vs. Revis
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