Jabar Gaffneyjust shook his head in awe.
Standing in front of his visiting locker at Dolphin Stadium after Sunday's game, he was asked about fellow wideout Randy Moss'three-touchdown day in Miami. With those three grabs, the prolific veteran moved into third-place on the NFL's list of all-time leaders in touchdown catches, surpassing former teammate Cris Carter. Since entering the league with Minnesota in 1998, Moss has snagged 132 touchdown passes.
"He had a heck of a game," Gaffney finally said of his teammate. "Anytime you go out there and catch three touchdowns, you're doing something right. He was just in a zone."
Moss may have been, but the Dolphins defense wasn't. They chose, instead, to cover Moss man-to-man with a single corner for much of the game, and it cost them, to the tune of his 125 yards receiving and three scores.
Immediately after the game, Moss was incredulous that Miami chose to cover him with one defender. In fact, he took issue with the Dolphins' game plan against him, though he did not specify if he was taking umbrage with defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualonior head coach Tony Sparano.
"I don't know why Coach disrespected me like that," he stated, though not in an angry tone. He appeared simply to be using the term "disrespect" to explain his motivation for wanting to pile up such gaudy stats.
" I am who I am and I love to do what I do," he went on. "Anytime I feel disrespected, I'm gonna go out there and make it happen. I felt like they disrespected me today by playing me single-coverage. That allowed me to do what I love to do, which is get in the end zone.
"If I see single coverage man-to-man, I feel like I can beat anybody in this league. [Sunday] was just one of those days."
His head coach, however, said Monday he wasn't all that surprised to see Miami's defensive strategy against Moss.
"I mean, Miami does that. That's kind of the way they've played all year," Bill Belichicknoted. "They play a lot of post safety coverage, single safety … a little bit of split safety coverage, but a lot more single and high safety. They did a lot of what they've been doing all year. They've had a lot of success, they'd won four in a row, playing as good as any team in the league going into last weekend. So, they kind of did what was getting them there."
Belichick was then asked how difficult it is for a receiver and his quarterback to spot the one-on-one coverage in this era of cloak-and-dagger defense.
"Sometimes it's more obvious than others," he replied. "Sometimes it's disguised, sometimes they show you what they're going to do. Sometimes they give you one look and roll into another.
"There wasn't a lot of press coverage out there [in Miami]," Belichick added. "You have to confirm it every time. I don't think you can go to the line too many times and say, 'OK, this is what it is.' Because as soon as you start doing that, you start guessing. And then they give you one look and roll into something else, or drop somebody underneath, and that's where you get in trouble."
But it was Moss who gave the Dolphins trouble, thanks in part to his and quarterback Matt Cassel'sability to spot the man coverage together at the right times.
"When I see single coverage, most of the time, the safety's over the top. So, it looks like single-coverage, but it's really double-Moss. [Sunday], the safety stayed in the middle and our offense executed.
"I think we really came to play today," he concluded. "Just another day at the office."
Making Light of the fight
The ramifications from that fourth-quarter fracas between All-Pro left tackle Matt Lightand Miami LB Channing Crowdercould be severe. Both players were ejected, and league officials could decide to punish either or both of them further.
It happened during a field goal attempt by the Pats' Stephen Gostkowski, who was an innocent bystander, yet nearly became entangled in the scuffle unwittingly.
Gostkowski clearly understands the seriousness of the situation and its potential fallout. However, the good-natured kicker played along when reporters asked what was going through his mind when all heck broke loose around him.
"Light landed on my leg. I had no idea what was going on," Gostkowski explained Monday. "I was still following through from my kick and he was getting knocked back into me. I was looking up at the ball and before I knew it, they were going at it. I just kind of jumped out of the way.
"I was just worried about them falling on my leg," he continued. "He hit it and I kind of flinched a little bit. I didn't want to get hurt from something like that ... those guys are twice my size."
With a smile, he jokingly added, "I only pick fights that I can win, to tell you the truth," which brought laughter to the small group of assembled reporters.
In hockey fights, one member of the media pointed out, the two goaltenders typically seek each other out and square off – a thought that hadn't occurred to Gostkowski until that moment.
"Yeah, I should've gone after his kicker … just ran over there and started punching him," Gostkowski replied – clearly tongue-in-cheek – which left the reporters in stitches.
Thanksgiving is this Thursday, and what would the holiday be without football?
For those for whom football is a job, however, there is work to be done. The Patriots will be spending part of their day here at Gillette Stadium preparing for this weekend's home tilt with Pittsburgh.
To a veteran like defensive back Lewis Sanders, this is nothing new.
"This is my ninth year. So, I haven't had a Thanksgiving or a Christmas [off], so I don't really think about it, you know," he told reporters Monday.
"I'll probably eat Chinese food on Thanksgiving. I don't have anywhere to go.
"Maybe the younger guys are like, 'Oh, my God. We've gotta work on Thanksgiving?' But I've been around and this team's been around. We're just going to prepare and just go on."
Elsewhere around Foxborough today …
The start time for New England's Week-14 game against the Seahawks in Seattle has been changed. Originally scheduled to be the prime-time game on NBC, the two teams will now meet at 4:05 Eastern on CBS. As part of its Flex Schedule plan, the NFL decided to air the Washington-Baltimore beltway rivalry on that Sunday night (Dec. 7).
Just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday, several Patriots players and staff, in conjunction with Goodwill Industries, will be distributing food baskets to some 200 needy Massachusetts families tonight. Local businesses Willow Tree Farms, Shaw's Supermarkets, and Sterilite Corp. donated the turkeys, fixings, and baskets, respectively.