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Raiders Counting on Moss

Oakland hoping for a strong showing from star receiver in today's game against Dallas.

October 02, 2005|From Associated Press

OAKLAND — The Oakland Raiders have seen only brief glimpses of the big-play brilliance that made Randy Moss the NFL's most feared receiver when he was in Minnesota.

With the Raiders desperate for a win after three losses to open the season, now is when they really need Moss to deliver a dominating performance. And there's no better opponent for him to do it against than the Dallas Cowboys.

Ever since being bypassed in the 1998 draft by Dallas when owner Jerry Jones said he wanted to avoid players with off-field issues, Moss has tormented the Cowboys with 10 touchdown catches in five games.

With Dallas (2-1) being beaten by big pass plays the last two weeks, Moss figures to get quite a few chances today.

"I think everyone is looking for that spectacular game and I believe he is going to have games like that," Oakland coach Norv Turner said.

But Moss has disappeared for long stretches during the first three games, with quarterback Kerry Collins often going in other directions in key spots.

Oakland's leading receiver this season is running back LaMont Jordan and Turner has talked about how Moss' presence has opened up the field for tight end Courtney Anderson. But rest assured, owner Al Davis didn't bring Moss to Oakland to be a decoy.

"I know what the expectation level is. We've got to give him as many chances as we can," Turner said. "Along the way, when he's opening things up for other guys, we've got to understand that's part of the equation of Randy being here."

Moss didn't have a ball thrown his way in the final 13 minutes of a 23-17 loss to Kansas City in Week 2, and had only four balls come his way in the first three quarters last week against Philadelphia.

Moss spent much of that game standing with his arms folded and a frustrated look on his face as the Raiders were on defense. Some Eagles' defenders said they got in Moss' head and noticed him taking some plays off.

Turner admitted this week that Moss goes half-speed on some plays, but the Raiders insist Moss is not frustrated by the double coverage and lack of touches. It's hard to know for sure because Moss has not talked to the media since after the season opener against New England on Sept. 8.

Collins, having a solid season statistically with no interceptions and six touchdown passes, has fallen to 3-13 as Oakland's starter. He is growing tired of the questions about Moss.

"I find that very funny because when I throw to him too much, like I did in the New England game, it's 'Oh, you're throwing to Randy too much,' " Collins said. "And then when I don't throw to him enough: 'Well, you're not throwing to Randy enough.' ... In my mind, I can't win that battle, so I'm not going to worry about it."

If there was ever a week to throw often to Moss it should be this one. Moss has picked on the Cowboys ever since Jones said his image-tarnished team couldn't take a chance on the controversial receiver in the 1998 draft.

Moss then went out and caught three long touchdown passes the following Thanksgiving in his first game against Dallas. He hasn't let up since, with 25 receptions for 552 yards and the 10 scores in five wins against the Cowboys.

"Anybody that would play the Raiders would be concerned about Moss. There's no doubt about that," Dallas Coach Bill Parcells said. "Moss has been a highly productive player in the league and he's probably the singular most dangerous threat as there is in the NFL."

His presence is a big problem for the Cowboys, who have had trouble defending the deep ball the last two weeks against receivers less talented than the Raiders' corps of Moss, Jerry Porter and Doug Gabriel.

Cornerback Anthony Henry, who got a $10 million signing bonus from Dallas in the off-season, was burned twice by Brandon Lloyd in last week's win over San Francisco. Aaron Glenn was beaten on Santana Moss' two late touchdown catches in Washington's comeback win over the Cowboys the previous week.

"They watch film, they see what other teams did to us," Dallas safety Roy Williams said. "I'm sure they're going to install it in their game plan. But the Raiders, they go deep dang near every play, so they're probably chomping at the bit to play us. We understand that."

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