EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 23, 2009

Revis vs. Randy: Jets won this one

Bill Burt

FOXBORO — You couldn't miss Darrelle Revis.

He was the guy, No. 24, standing at the ball as the New England Patriots broke every single huddle.

The New York Jets cornerback was waiting for Randy Moss.

If Moss went left, Revis went left. If Moss went right, Revis went right.

This was the game within the real game, which the Patriots won 31-14.

Moss is universally known as the best vertical receiver in the NFL, maybe ever. This means covering him one-on-one, particularly when he goes long, is a crapshoot that most cornerbacks lose.

And the 24-year-old Revis, coming off an All-Pro season, covers the most dangerous receiver every week.

Moss vs. Revis.

This was what makes sports, particularly competition, so special.

The duo sparked debate and controversy this week about their previous matchup in Meadowlands two months ago, which the Jets won 16-9.

Moss had only four catches that day and a season-low 24 yards.

Moss wasn't content after hearing that Revis claimed a personal victory that day. Moss said Revis didn't do it alone and that he had help in the form of a deep safety or two.

The Patriots have a way of dealing with people like Revis, who had the audacity to say publicly that he can contain Moss.

They, including Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, want to embarrass them.

And the Patriots wasted no time trying do just that.

On the Patriots first possession they were faced with a third-and-three play on their 34. If you guessed a 5-yard curl to Wes Welker was coming, like I did, you were wrong.

Brady looked about 12 yards down the left side, after Moss faked going long and stopped short. But Revis knocked away the pass to Moss, forcing the Patriots to punt.

On the Patriots next possession, they tried a rare flea-flicker, with Laurence Maroney taking the handoff and running two yards before pitching it back to Brady, who then threw it 50 yards in the air toward Moss.

It went over Moss' head, with Revis about a half-step behind.

"They tried to catch me sleeping," said Revis, of the failed flea-flicker. "I'm not surprised. I expect guys to throw the ball my way because I'm usually covering some great wide receivers ... I expected them to come at me."

After three incompletions to Moss, with Revis on him like a glove and without any help, Brady finally connected with Moss near the goal line on a first-and-goal play from the 4-yard line.

Moss briefly faked as if he was going to the corner, raising his left hand, and he slanted inside. Brady delivered the ball for a touchdown before Revis even looked up.

"It was planned between he and I," said Brady. "Randy saw something and I saw the same thing, and he made a nice adjustment for the touchdown."

But it was one of the few victories yesterday for Moss, who was the understudy to Welker's Hall of Fame effort — 15 catches, 192 yards.

In all, Brady threw to Moss 10 times with Revis by his side, one-on-one. And Moss caught only four balls for 29 yards. He caught another pass for five yards.

"Revis did a great job on Randy Moss, just like he did last time," said Jets coach Rex Ryan. "That is one guy that actually won his battle. ... We've got the best cornerback in football."

But we can't forget about the more important, overriding battle yesterday. And that's that the Patriots pretty much had their way with the Jets despite Revis' performance.

"It's rough," said Revis. "It shows that we're not getting our job done at the end of the day. I'm not trying to point nobody out, but (with) Wes Welker you have to press him."

You have to give the Patriots credit. They tried, until the bitter end to knock Revis down a peg.

With the Patriots ahead 31-14 and only 30 seconds remaining, I, like everyone else expected a handoff to Laurence Maroney or BenJarvis Green-Ellis to run out the clock.

Not the Patriots. Brady tried to hit Moss on another go-pattern.

"We know the Patriots don't quit," mocked Revis at their attempt to beat him. "They want to keep going, adding points up on the board. And I knew it."

Revis said — despite his victory — Moss is still the man among receivers he has covered in his brief NFL career.

He said despite the war of words last week, there was only respect and no conversation during the game. The only discussion they had came after Moss bear-hugged him on a long pass attempt from Brady. Moss was flagged for a penalty.

"I give him a lot of respect," said Revis. "I'm not a trash-talker. He's not as well. But we did have a laugh about that play out there."

The Patriots won the war and are back in decent position in the conference with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals losing shockers to the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders respectively.

But Revis won the battle of the titans. No doubt about it.

E-mail Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.