Hoge: Moss 'played his tail off'

When ESPN analyst Merril Hoge began watching coaches' tape of the Patriots' 20-10 win over the Panthers, he anticipated that he would see a lackluster effort from Randy Moss.

He didn't.

Now, after a few days in which Moss has been blasted by critics, Hoge is stepping forward to defend him.

"I didn't see one play where he was sitting around, quit, or was 'useless.' If you're going to use the words 'useless' and 'quit', I'd need to see some stronger evidence than words that come out of a losing locker room," Hoge said. "After I looked at the tape, based on the things I had heard, I expected to see the dog days of Randy Moss. But there was nothing of the sort. He played his tail off.

"This one was wrong. He needed a voice. I was a player, and if I went in to watch tape of myself, saw what I saw, and then read the things that were out there, I would be so furious and upset, asking 'Are you kidding me?'"

Hoge made the point that TV footage of games "never tells the truth."

"When you get caught up watching TV, you might think you know things," he said. "But when you put on [coaches'] tape, that's the real story."

Hoge will be sharing his thoughts on "SportsCenter" and "NFL Live" today.

I'll plan on posting a few more of his observations later in the day.