Oakland Raiders quarterback Aaron Brooks and wide receiver Randy Moss put talk of any chemistry issues to rest in a little over 16 minutes of football against the Detroit Lions last week.
Brooks led Moss perfectly with a 63-yard touchdown strike over Fernando Bryant, and later hit him again with a 25-yard laser in between three Detroit defenders.
Combined with a 14-yard hookup on a third-and-7 play preceding the second touchdown, Moss caught three passes for 102 yards and for the first time looked like the receiver who was averaging more than 24 yards per catch last season until struck down by groin, pelvis and rib injuries.
The timing couldn't have been better since speculation had been growing that Brooks and Moss weren't on the same page. Moss had just two receptions for 30 yards in two previous preseason games and has had a relatively quiet training camp when contrasted with the miracle-per-day quota he operated on in 2005.
"It was nice to finally hook up for six," Brooks said. "He ran a hell of a route. The safety bit on the crossing route, Randy did his job diving into the end zone. It was a great effort on his part."
Moss, a couple of locker stalls away, declined comment.
Coach Art Shell brushed aside all questions of a Brooks-Moss crisis going into the game, and issued a gentle "I told you so" after the 21-3 win.
"As I said before, Randy will get his shots, get his opportunities," Shell said. "Tonight those opportunities were there. When there was single coverage, Randy got open."
And even when there wasn't.
On the 25-yard score, Brooks threaded a pass between three Lions defenders, with Moss doing a nice job in front of the goal post making the catch and getting both feet down.
Last season, one of the criticisms of Kerry Collins was he too often immediately looked the other way when Moss was guarded by more than one defender instead of allowing him the chance to make the play anyway.
"The thing is the defenders had their backs to me," Brooks said. "I was able to get the ball in faster than they were able to turn around."
Brooks said Moss had never really been lost, but that he has been concentrating his efforts on getting everyone involved. Seven other receivers aside from Moss caught passes from Brooks against Detroit.
"We all know he's the man, but the offense is not centered on Randy," Brooks said. "We all know what Randy's capable of. We've all seen what Randy has done on Monday nights."
Monday night is when the Raiders happen to open the regular season — at home on Sept. 11 against the San Diego Chargers.
"I would like nothing more than to see this kind of performance on Monday night against San Diego," Brooks said.
With two solid games under his belt, the memories of Brooks' poor performances against Philadelphia and Minnesota have receded into the background.
"He's becoming more and more comfortable," Shell said. "He's clearing old systems out of his head and putting in a new system."
Long Connections Quell Moss-Brooks Rift
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