Hartman: Moss says, 'I play when I want to play'

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 22, 2001 - 10:00 PM

Randy Moss, who caught 10 passes for 171 yards and three touchdowns in the Vikings' 28-16 victory over the Giants on Monday night, said playing in prime time when many NFL players are watching had nothing to do with his big contribution to the victory.

"I think that I got more emotional over them retiring Big K's [Korey Stringer's] jersey," Moss said. "Monday night had nothing to do with it. I think if it had been a regular game, retiring his jersey would have been just as emotional."

Moss has been criticized by some media members for not giving 100 percent all of the time. His veteran teammate, Cris Carter, will tell you there is not a player who goes 100 percent all of the time.

"I play when I want to play," Moss said. "Do I play up to my top performance, my ability every time? Maybe not. I just keep doing what I do and that is playing football. When I make my mind up, I am going out there to tear somebody's head off. When I go out there and play football, man it's not anybody telling me to play or how I should play. I play when I want to play, case closed."

Moss knows it helps when he goes at full speed.

"With me playing at my highest level, it gives us a better chance to win," he said. "But I think just with me going out there and playing, we have a chance to win. I don't really think my teammates really see the desire and determination to get in the end zone when we play a not-so-good team. Winning is really a team thing.

"If the team comes out wanting to play and they are feeling good, then it is going to be a hell of a day for everybody. But just by one individual coming out showing he is ready to play doesn't mean my team is ready to play. We have been just out of sync."

Asked why he had such a big game against the Giants, Moss said: "It was just really the flow of the game. There were a lot of things we put in just to get me the ball. They got me the ball, so good things happened."

Vikings offensive coordinator Sherman Lewis confirmed the coaching staff put in more plays for Moss against the Giants.

"We had more short plays," Lewis said. "We have run that little flip play to him before, but we usually had one formation to get it to him. This game we had three or four different ways to run the same play. We just tried to get the ball to him more often, even if it is the short pass. We just let him run with it."

Lewis said the Vikings plan to continue to involve Moss more.

"He is a great runner after the catch," Lewis said. "If we can get the ball into Moss' hands, the better the chance of an explosive play happening."

Doesn't want surgery Contrary to what you read and hear, Vikings trainers will confirm that Moss does have problems with his ankles, a problem that only surgery might cure.

"I am scared of surgery and that is why I say no," Moss said. "I read what coach [Dennis] Green said about surgery. Hopefully, it won't come to that. Hopefully, it is just sore. And I don't know if having surgery is going to take the soreness out of it during the course of my career. It just comes with the territory."

Green told the New York Times on Sunday the problem with Moss' right ankle is chronic and acknowledged that exploratory surgery at season's end was a strong possibility.

Moss said he has more problems with the ankle when he is on the sideline for a long time. "Other than that I feel pretty good," he said. "Most mornings I wake up sore, any other morning I feel the same."

Ernie Accorsi, the Giants' veteran general manager, paid Moss a real tribute Monday when he said: "He is one of the great receivers in the NFL. We were fortunate to do a good job on him in [last season's] NFC Championship Game. But he is the type of guy who can explode at anytime."

The media and others can criticize Moss, but when he plays just his normal game, he can do things no other receiver in the league can do.

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