In Week 15, the San Francisco 49ers (9-3-1) and New England Patriots (10-3) will face off in the game of the week. There are a number of engaging in-game match-ups for this one, but headlining them might be the return of Randy Moss to New England.
Moss has a very storied past with the Patriots, seeing the highest highs and lowest lows the NFL has to offer.
In his first year with the team, he blew up the competition with a record-setting 23 receiving TDs in a single season. The passing attack in New England during that time was as good as it's ever been performed in the history of the league. This generation was lucky enough to witness such a spectacle, and even more so with the drama ensued following it.
Not all was well within the locker room, which eventually led to the two parties going separate ways. Like the saying goes, "All good things must come to an end." It's no surprise something this spectacular was over so quickly.
49ers WR Randy Moss played for the Patriots from 2007-10. The Patriots acquired Moss from the Oakland Raiders in exchange for a fourth-round selection in the 2007 NFL Draft. In his first year with the Patriots, Moss caught an NFL-record 23 touchdown passes, surpassing Jerry Rice’s previous record of 22.
Moss’ contributions were a key part of the Patriots setting several NFL single-season records, including most points in a season (589) and most touchdowns in a season (75) en route to completing the NFL’s first 16-0 regular season. Moss also set team records for receiving touchdowns (23), overall touchdowns (23) and points scored by a non-kicker (138).
After the team traded Moss in 2010 to the Vikings, Bill Belichick and the Patriots made the hike to Minnesota and handed No. 84 a loss that same season. Following the defeat at home, Moss took the podium for an unconventional post-game press conference.
Moss seemed emotional and genuinely heartbroken.
Two years later, the situation is now completely different. The 2012 version of Randy Moss is a brand new player that's eager to learn, listen and contribute in any way he can. Though, it wouldn't be surprising if some past feelings carried over into this game.
Moss respects the organization and what coach Belichick has built in New England. "I don't know how many more times I'm going to be up here in New England, but I'll leave the New England Patriots and coach [Bill] Belichick with a salute. I miss you," Moss said after his last game against the Patriots.
It would be nice if the 49ers could make Moss "feel appreciated" by getting him the ball on Sunday night. We've seen that quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been able to find Moss, and has the arm to get it to him deep. Oddly enough, Kaepernick has been compared to Randall Cunningham, who was a former teammate of Moss' in '98 with the Vikings.
That season, Cunningham and Moss became the highest scoring offense of all-time, and just missed the Super Bowl. That offense would only be topped by Brady and Moss in New England in '07 -- a team that got to the Super Bowl but fell just short of a win.
It is now '12 and Moss is with Kaepernick and the 49ers. The future first ballot Hall of Famer has perhaps one more real shot to obtain the one thing he never has in this league: a championship. Randy Moss should be extremely fired up for this game.