The San Francisco 49ers came away with another win on Monday night, thoroughly dominating the division rival Arizona Cardinals on primetime. I am a little late to the party, considering I reside in New Jersey near the shore, which was thoroughly dominated by Hurricane Sandy that very night.
Having found Wi-Fi in a remote location, I was able to watch the game on NFL Rewind and put together some thoughts.
Beside the obvious (Alex Smith's night, Michael Crabtree's performance and only 7 rushing yards allowed by the defense), I came away quite impressed with wide receiver Randy Moss.
Moss was on the field, actively contributing for the 49ers. On multiple downs, whether it was a run or pass, Moss was effectively luring coverage away from the play. His presence alone removed defenders from the action, helping the Niners offense outmatch the Cardinals on a down-by-down basis.
Besides being a decoy, Moss was also contributing as a blocker. His selflessness has shown that he's truly bought in to the team-first philosophy that Jim Harbaugh has instilled in San Francisco.
And then - as if I couldn't be more impressed with Moss - quarterback Alex Smith found the veteran wide out on a 3rd and 8. Smith went through his progressions, and then found No. 84 underneath in the flat. With solid ball placement, Smith gave Moss a chance to make a play after the catch.
On his only catch of the day, Moss took a possible drive-ending 5-yard gain into a 47-yard touchdown. The 35-year-old ran through the Cardinals defense like a buzz saw through a Jell-O mold. The Arizona defensive backs and linebackers whiffed on Moss, as he cut right by them.
And after two cuts, Moss had a lane.
With a little bit of daylight, Moss hit the gas and broke the plane for six. His touchdown put the nail in the coffin, finishing the Cardinals at their house on national television. Like he's done his entire career, the future Canton inductee made a defense look absolutely foolish.
Moss, like Charles Woodson or Ray Lewis, looks ageless. When on the field, he's a threat in every which form. As a blocker, decoy, pass-catcher or runner, it's a fact that Moss can still ball like it's 1999. It makes fans wonder two things: (1) Why is Moss not a bigger piece in the offense and (2) Is this a sign of things to come?
Moss has been effective, even in his situational role. But in the 49ers' two losses, one has to think he could have made a difference. And even though that's now ancient history, it could be used as a learning device - a preventative measure to ensure San Francisco uses all the weapons in their arsenal next time.
The 49ers now enter their bye week.
Down the line, the 49ers have the Patriots, Saints and Seahawks, highlighting their remaining schedule. These should be anticipated as hard-fought games that could result in potential losses. The Niners will need to generate offense in order to defeat these teams, and Moss has shown he can help.
I'd like to see him get more involved going forward. He's still got the speed, athleticism and awareness to be a difference-maker. And for the first time in a long time, he's looking like an every-down player.
In the second half of the season, the 49ers should integrate Moss into the offense more. If No. 84 can get rolling, San Francisco can carry that offensive momentum into the playoffs. And what was an Achilles for the team last year can suddenly become a strength for the Niners.