Shutdown Corner - NFL

As ridiculous a week as the New England Patriots have had, even the team's 20-10 win over the Carolina Panthers was lined with controversy. After the game, members of the Boston media spent time in the Carolina locker room at Gillette Stadium and asked several defenders about the overall effort of one Randy Moss(notes). New England's elite deep receiver caught one pass for 16 yards, which he subsequently fumbled, and Tom Brady's(notes) interception was a Moss target. Albert Breer of the Boston Globe wanted to know if there was anything more to Moss's disappointing performance -- perhaps something similar to the way he used to walk through games when he was a member of the Oakland Raiders?

Cornerback Chris Gamble(notes) said that getting Moss all pouty was part of the game plan. "We knew he was going to shut it down," Gamble told Breer. "That's what we wanted to do him. That's what we did. ... He'd just give up a lot ... Slow down, he's not going deep, not trying to run a route. You can tell, his body language."

Safety Chris Harris(notes) concurred. "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," Harris said. "If you get a jam on him, he'll just ease up. He had the one catch, and he fumbled. ... We stayed on top of him."

Lest you think the Panthers were teeing off on the Pats after the fact, their respect for fellow receiver Wes Welker(notes) was universal.

"They're two different breeds," Gamble told Breer. "Welker's just a tough, hard-nosed guy. He got hit and he got back up. I can't see Moss getting hit, catching slants, getting banged around, and getting back up."

And Harris' opinion of No. 83? "He's a backyard football player."

Welker caught 10 passes for 105 yards and remained productive even as the Panthers rolled more coverage to him. Because as Gamble concluded, "We know from watching film on Moss, once you get him out of the game early, he's gonna shut it down."

Moss has six catches in his last three games, a month after being shut down almost completely by the Jets' amazing Darrelle Revis(notes). With all due respect to Revis, one player is even better at keeping Randy Moss from helping his team -- and that player is Randy Moss. Not exactly what the Pats need at this time. Moss revived his career in New England after quitting on the Raiders because New England was a great team full of great players who were also leaders. Now that the team is in transition, it seems that Moss won't step up. He'll simply shut down.

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