Favre's got his guy; now he and Moss must produce
Brett Favre is finally united with Randy Moss. Now the fun part starts.
So does the challenge, because the Minnesota Vikings still must get their passing game in rhythm and catch up in the NFC race. And, for all the relief Moss and his big-play ability should provide Favre, well, the old quarterback is also carrying a bigger burden.
Favre, who turns 41 on Sunday, recounted a conversation he had with his wife, Deanna, after the trade was completed with New England to bring Moss to Minnesota.
''She said, 'You feel good about it?''' Favre said. ''I said, 'Boy, I feel a lot of pressure. More than I thought I was going to feel.' Why is that? Now I've got to throw it to him.''
Favre watched the Miami Dolphins hold Moss without a catch on Monday night for the first time since 2006, and despite the lopsided victory by the Patriots Favre expressed surprise that only one ball from Tom Brady went Moss' way.
''I'm like, 'He's only been thrown to one time?' So what if he's covered?'' Favre said. ''That's the thing about Randy: So what if he's covered? But does that mean you just throw it to him and you got four other guys that are wide open? There's this added pressure.''
There's that word again: pressure.
Favre has never been shy about acknowledging anxiety or insecurity about his ability, even if it is merely a way for him to improve perceptions about his performance.
But that's Favre, too: portraying both a rookie's uncertainty and a Hall of Famer's confidence in the same sentence. Don't think that Favre isn't plenty excited about what Moss can bring to the Vikings and the vertical part of their attack.
''How could you not want to play with this guy? He can't do anything but make us better and make the guys around us better,'' Favre said. ''Will it happen Monday night? I have no idea.''
This week, Favre has been wearing a wrap on his right elbow, which has been sore.
''I've probably iced more in the last weeks than I have in my career,'' Favre said, adding: ''I want to be smart about it, but I do need work. It's not like I'm throwing to these guys for 10 years.''
He wanted Moss badly when he was still in Green Bay, but the Packers didn't pull the trigger and the Oakland Raiders sent him to the Patriots instead. Moss excelled that year playing with Brady, racking up 23 touchdown receptions and rolling to the Super Bowl until an upset loss to the New York Giants.
Moss' production hasn't been the same since, and he's surely a step behind the rookie who revved up the Vikings in 1998 with a record-setting season for the NFL's second-highest scoring team of all time.
The 2007 Patriots are first, with Moss the common denominator between those two clubs. Though he still has an awfully strong arm for his age, Favre hasn't shown the same touch on the deep ball in recent years as he once did, either.
So Moss, while proclaiming the same optimism about this prolific passing connection, offered his own tempered take on the situation.
''Knowing that I'm a little older, knowing that he's older, I know we don't have that far of a window,'' Moss said. ''The opportunity is closing. We just have to take it one game at a time, one practice at a time. I know I'm coming in a little late. Hopefully, get our timing down and carry it on into the games.''
Told that Favre is one touchdown pass away from an even 500, however, Moss sounded like a little kid.
''Whew,'' he said. ''Like I said, he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer. I can remember one time my rookie year, we were playing in Green Bay and they wanted all the offensive guys to come sit down: 'Everybody come and sit down and rest your legs.' I said, 'No, I want to watch Brett Favre and see his magic.' Like I said, I know I'm a little up there in age, but I still feel I can play at a high level. Brett probably feels the same way.''
The Vikings travel to the Jersey Meadowlands this weekend for a Monday night game against the New York Jets, Favre's team in 2008 and Moss' division rival when he played for the Patriots.
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell didn't hesitate: Moss won't be limited in the game plan.
''Immediately you start to draft up things to try and get him the ball,'' Bevell said. ''You don't want to come out of a game and have zero catches. You'd like to be able to factor him in in any way and put the ball in his hands.''
Though the other wide receivers will certainly have their roles reduced, the Vikings were predictably wide-eyed about the latest superstar addition to the offense.
''It's like Christmas over and over again,'' running back Adrian Peterson said. ''I never imagined playing with Favre, and it's happened. And now Randy Moss, my favorite receiver. The best in the game. I feel like a kid in a candy store.''
Added wide receiver Percy Harvin: ''I can't do nothing but smile. We still have a long ways to go, but we have a lot of the weapons there. We've just got to put them together.''
That's the key, as wide receiver Greg Lewis cautioned: ''Names don't win games. We've all got to go out there and do our job.''