Moss, T.O. focused on game, not each other

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Randy Moss and Terrell Owens won't be on the field at the same time, not unless New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick decides to turn Moss into the second coming of Troy Brown.

So, by definition, Moss and Owens will not being going head to head when the Buffalo Bills visit the Patriots in the "Monday Night Football" season opener at Gillette Stadium.

Even better for fans, one of them will be on the field almost the entire show.

In a game full of noteworthy story lines -- Tom Brady's return, Owens' debut with the Bills, Buffalo's chaos, throwback uniforms -- don't forget a matchup of surefire Hall of Fame receivers who haven't been too complimentary of each other over the years.

Moss and Owens are two of the greatest Monday night performers in NFL history, ranking first and second among active players in touchdowns.

Both are embracing the significance of opening the season with a national audience, but neither receiver admitted that squaring off against the other would be a factor.

"T.O. never really has gotten my juices flowing," Moss told ESPN.com in a May interview. "We've never guarded each other. He plays offense; I play offense. I pay attention to what he does, and hopefully he pays attention to what I do, but as far as us being a matchup between one another, we don't guard one another.

"It's hard to sit there and say that it gets my juices flowing, but just being the opening game on Monday night is enough."

Owens avoided mentioning Moss during a conference call Wednesday with Patriots reporters.

"I'll let my play do the talking for me," Owens said. "Again, Monday night is pretty much a motivator for everybody, for every player.

"Playing on Monday night, everybody’s looking to play their best.

Everybody has their grandmas, aunts and uncles watching, and for the ones that are in the stadium, they try to make it extra special."

Owens has scored 18 touchdowns on Monday night, two more than Moss.

That ranks them fourth and fifth all-time behind Jerry Rice (36), Emmitt Smith (24) and Marcus Allen (19).

Owens and Moss are 2-2 against one another, but Moss has the better numbers with 27 receptions for 386 yards and five touchdowns. Owens has 24 catches for 280 yards and three touchdowns.

The first time they played in September 2003, Moss went off for eight catches, 172 yards and three touchdowns, while Owens had five catches for 55 yards and no touchdowns.

But Moss has scored once in each of the next three meetings.

In their lone Monday night showdown on Sept. 20 2004, Owens helped the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Minnesota Vikings with four receptions, 79 yards and a touchdown. Moss finished with eight catches for 69 yards and a touchdown.

For two receivers who are considered the best of their generation, it would be fitting for Moss to even that Monday night score, too -- even if he doesn't want to acknowledge it publicly.

"I've been in the game long enough," Moss said. "This is my 12th season, so I'm not really feeding into the hype, but for it to be Monday night and Tom Brady's big comeback, hopefully as a team we step up to the challenge and meet all our expectations and give the world something good to watch on 'Monday Night Football.'"