Patriots come to Moss' defense

The Panthers accused Randy Moss of quitting, but the former Viking's teammates in New England came to his defense … sort of. Both sides had differing views on whether the guy known as "Superfreak" in Minnesota dogged it when the Panthers got physical.

Did Randy Moss revert to his Oakland and even Minnesota days and quit on the Patriots in the team's 20-10 win over the Panthers on Sunday afternoon at a dreary Gillette Stadium?

Fans, media and even a couple Carolina defensive backs say yes.

"We knew he was going to shut it down," Carolina cornerback Chris Gamble told the Boston Globe. "That's what we wanted him to do. ... He'd just give up a lot, slow down, he's not going deep, not trying to run a route. You can tell (by his) body language.

"I know everyone who plays against him, they can sense that. Once you get into him in the beginning of the game, he shuts it down a little bit."

The Panthers' game plan was to be physical with Moss from the first snap.

"That's what it is with him," Carolina safety Chris Harris added. "You get physical with him, and I don't want to say he quits, but he kind of doesn't run the routes the way they're supposed to be run. If you get a jam on him, he'll just ease up. He had the one catch, and he fumbled."

Gamble also thought Moss' lazy break on an out route played a role in the corner's first-quarter interception.

"That's what I got out of it," Gamble said. "He came out of (his break), but it wasn't hard, and I broke on the ball."

But some of the most important people inside the football meeting rooms in Foxborough are coming to the defense of New England's mercurial big play receiver and offensive co-captain.

"Everyone takes liberties to say whatever they want to say in a situation like (Sunday's)," fellow Patriots offensive captain Tom Brady told sports radio WEEI in Boston. "I've seen plays made on Chris Gamble over the course of the season, too. Guys, when they play Randy, want to show what they can do, and I guess they came off the game pretty confident. But Randy's one of the best players in the history of the NFL.

"We've gotten a lot from him all year; he's one of the top receivers in the league right now. Every game plan a defense comes up with is trying to stop Randy Moss."

Coach Bill Belichick also took some jabs at the talkative Panthers defensive backs while defending Moss.

"I have a lot of respect for Randy," Belichick said Monday. "I think he's one of our best players. I think if you watch other teams defend him, they think the same way. Other than these two guys from Carolina after they lost another game, I guess they didn't think that way. They haven't won a lot of games."

Belichick doesn't often call out opponents in such a direct way. Moss hasn't had many games in his rebirth in New England like he did Sunday with just one catch for 16 yards, a play that ended in a turnover when he fumbled the ball away.

For the season, Moss is second on New England with 69 catches for 1,074 yards with nine touchdowns. His yardage total ranks sixth in the NFL this season.

Times are tough in New England, and for Moss in particular. When the going gets tough, what does Moss do? His supporters and doubters alike will get another chance to see Moss respond Sunday afternoon in Buffalo.

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