EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Randy Moss caught a long pass and stepped into the end zone, flashing the dominant playmaking ability that made him one of NFL’s most feared wide receivers.
Looks like it’s time for opposing defenses to get scared again.
Moss caught nine passes from Tom Brady for 183 yards and a touchdown in his New England debut, leading the Patriots to a 38-14 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday. Ellis Hobbs also set an NFL record by taking the second-half kickoff 108 yards for a score.
“I was nervous before the game,” Moss said. “I didn’t know how much I was going to play or what might happen. I settled down after the first catch and the first hit. I don’t think I ever was more anxious or more nervous. I didn’t know how I would play.”
Neither did anyone else, including the Patriots.
Moss, acquired from Oakland in a draft-day deal, missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury and it was unclear how much of an impact he would have with his new team, or if he’d even play against the Jets.
In the end, Moss made all the difference.
“I’ve been playing long enough so that I’ve pretty much got down catching balls and making plays after I get them,” Moss said. “I’ve got that covered, but I’ve got to get my mind ready.”
Moss was prepared after two miserable years with the Raiders. A perennial Pro Bowl receiver with Minnesota, he appeared rejuvenated Sunday, showing no ill effects from the missed time in camp.
“He was a great player before he got to the Patriots,” Brady said. “Obviously, he’s still a great player.”
Brady, who faced little pressure from the Jets, was 22-of-28 for 297 yards and three touchdowns, including a 5-yarder to Benjamin Watson that was set up by catches of 22 and 33 yards by Moss. Brady continued his mastery of the Jets, improving to 7-0 against them at Giants Stadium, and 11-2 overall. Brady has thrown 17 touchdown passes and only five interceptions in his 14 appearances against the Jets.
With many fans still returning to their seats from the halftime break, Hobbs caught Mike Nugent’s kickoff deep in the end zone and surprisingly ran it out.
“It was one of those deals that when he started to run, you yell: ‘No! No! No! ... Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!”’ Welker said.
Hobbs made a few cuts to the left sideline and took off untouched into the end zone to give New England a 21-7 lead 14 seconds into the third quarter.
The previous record for longest kickoff return was 106 yards by three players, most recently by Roy Green of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1979.
The play also tied the record for longest in NFL history, matching the 108-yard missed field goal returns by Chicago’s Devin Hester last season against the Giants, and the Bears’ Nathan Vasher the previous season against San Francisco.
“That was tough to swallow,” Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma said. “It was tough for us to give up that.”
Laveranues Coles had two touchdown catches for the Jets, who had a scare in the third quarter when quarterback Chad Pennington hobbled to the sideline with a lower right leg injury.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
“I’ve never had a lower leg injury before,” Pennington said. “I’m not going to lay there, I’ll tell you that.”
Pennington flung his helmet to the ground as he hopped over to the bench, where he was surrounded by team trainers. Kellen Clemens replaced him, but Pennington came back to start the Jets’ next series with his right ankle heavily wrapped. He led the team on a scoring drive capped by Coles’ 1-yard touchdown catch.
In the fourth quarter, Clemens again replaced Pennington, who decided it wasn’t worth it to risk further injury. Pennington, 16-of-21 for 167 yards and the two touchdown passes to Coles, was uncertain how serious the injury is.
“The doctors are taking a look at it, and I’m sure I’ll see them frequently this week and we’ll go from there,” he said before limping from the podium.
PFT: Jets RB Mike Goodson was charged with five gun and drug counts Friday morning, after New Jersey State Police found the car he was riding in parked in the middle of Route 80 in Denville, N.J.
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