FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Sunday being Halloween, Randy Moss celebrated the holiday by coming to Gillette Stadium dressed as a decoy when his new team, the Minnesota Vikings, played his old team, the New England Patriots.

The Vikings threw 28 passes in their 28-18 loss to the Patriots, only two going Moss’ way. All right, three if you count the pass interference call on Brandon Meriweather while covering Moss. He caught one pass, for eight yards.

His replacement with the Patriots, meanwhile, had a much better day.

Brandon Tate, the second-year pro who said he learned a lot about being a pro football player from being around Moss the last two years, caught three passes for 101 yards, including a scintillating 65-yard touchdown catch-and-run that put the Patriots ahead for good in the third quarter.

You might say Tate, the guy expected to become the Patriots’ deep threat, celebrated Halloween by playing as Randy Moss.

Okay, so maybe we’re being a little harsh on Moss. But fact is, the Patriots are 3-0 without him, atop the AFC East with a 6-1 record. The Vikings are 1-3 with him, 2-5 overall and slipping out of playoff contention.

Nobody on the Patriots bashed Moss. Let’s remember, he was instrumental in much of their success in his time here. And they respect that.

They also respect his talent, which is why they prepared very well.

That Moss had only two passes thrown his way is as much a credit to the defense as anything else. They gave Brett Favre a lot of looks, forcing him to focus on other receivers.

Much of the time cornerback Kyle Arrington lined up man-to-man on Moss. He kept him in check by hitting Moss every time the ball was snapped.

“I think I was as physical with him than with any receiver in my career,” said Arrington, who won the starting job early in the season and has held onto it with strong play. “I mean, it was Randy Moss. It was put up or shut up.”

Not that there was any trash-talking on the field.

“Not really,” said Arrington. “We said, ‘What’s up?’ and everything in the first quarter and he noticed at the start how I was trying to play him early and he let me know he was aware. That was about it.

“Then in the fourth quarter he might have said a word or two Not too much was said between him and me. We both knew this was business and we’re professionals. We both knew what kind of job we had to do.”

Bill Belichick, the Patriots head coach, said the Vikings have too many offensive weapons to worry about just Randy Moss. But it did seem the secondary took his presence on the other side very personally.

“It was like playing against your big brother,” said Meriweather. “Whenever you get a chance to play against your big brother, you want to limit him in as many ways as you can. That’s what we were trying to do.

“Me, personally, I wanted to be the one to do it. But Kyle did a great job, Devin (McCourty) did a great job, and everybody else who was on him did a great job.”

Moss did some talking after the game. And, as always, he had some interesting things to say.

He spoke about his love for the Patriots, their fans, owner Bob Kraft’s wife, Myra, and Belichick, calling him “the best coach in football history.”

“I miss those guys. I miss the team,” he said.

“It was hard for me to come here and play.”

He questioned his new team on some decisions, like going for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1 with 1:07 left in the first half, the game tied at 7, instead of taking the sure three points on a field goal.

Adrian Peterson was stuffed for a two-yard loss by Brandon Spikes and Jermaine Cunningham, two kids who were playing at Florida last year.

“I wish we could have had that three at the end of the half,” said Moss. “Maybe it could have been different, maybe not.”

And, as always, Moss left his audience captivated to the very end. As he finished his speech — and that’s what it was, he didn’t take any questions — he said, “I don’t know how many more times I am going to be up here in New England, but I am going to leave the New England Patriots and Coach Belichick with a salute. I love you guys. I miss you. I’m out.”

And then he saluted and exited stage left.

 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

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