St. Petersburg Times: Super Bowl XXXV
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Super Bowl XXXV Tampa, Florida 2001
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  • The Road to Super Bowl XXXV

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    Attack mentality

    New York and Jason Sehorn have their work cut out trying to stop Randy Moss and Minnesota's offense.

    [Times photo: Michael Rondou]
    Randy Moss scampers for yardage before being brought down by Buc's Ronde Barber during a game in Tampa earlier this season.

    By RICK STROUD

    © St. Petersburg Times, published January 14, 2001


    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jason Sehorn is a celebrity with chisled good looks who keeps showing up on the talk show circuit even though his play as the Giants cornerback hasn't been much to converse about until lately.

    Before his remarkable interception and 32-yard return for a touchdown that keyed the Giants 20-10 NFC divisional playoff win over the Eagles last week, Sehorn's most memorable catch was when he popped the question to actress Angie Harmon on the Tonight Show.

    News flash to Sehorn: covering Randy Moss will be a much tougher proposal.

    "We're going to throw to Randy at least five or six times deep," fellow Vikings receiver Cris Carter said. "They'll stop him two or three times. He might get one pass interference penalty. He might catch two or three of them."

    Such was the case last week against New Orleans when Moss had two receptions. Unfortunately for the Saints, they covered 121 yards and went for touchdowns.

    His 53-yarder staked the Vikings to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. And on the third play of the second half, Moss put the game away by taking a simple quick hitch from quarterback Daunte Culpepper and accelerating from his flat-footed stance past the Saints defenders for a 68-yard touchdown.

    "Amazing," Vikings receiver Chris Walsh said. "There's not another guy in the league who can make that play."

    Sehorn never has played against Moss, who was hurt when the teams met in the '99 season. But he has watched enough film of the Super Freak to get the creeps.

    "He's ... I dunno ... just gifted," Sehorn said. "He takes all the heat off of Carter because everybody concentrates on him. It's kind of frightening to think that he hasn't scratched the surface of his mental ability to go along with the physical tools that he has. And that comes with time and he's as good as he is. I mean, just imagine Carter with all of Moss' ability."

    At 29, Sehorn is just a fraction of the player he used to be before injuries took his blazing speed. He tore his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in the first preseason game of '98. Then hamstring problems and a broken leg shelved him in '99.

    Sehorn had two interceptions during the regular season. But his pick of Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb last week proved he is one of those special talents who can produce a game-altering play.

    "It was like something out of the movie The Matrix," Giants linebacker Mike Barrow said. "Steven Spielberg couldn't do better than that."

    With about two minutes left in the first half, Sehorn squatted on an outroute by Eagles receiver Torrance Small. Rolling over onto his left shoulder, he batted the ball with his right hand. As it hung in the air, he got to his knees, made the catch, sprung to his feet and returned it for a score.

    "Can't say I didn't turn on SportsCenter (the next) morning to see it again," Sehorn said.

    At 6-foot-2, Sehorn is one of the bigger cornerbacks in the NFL and gives away 2 inches to Moss.

    "Jason is a good player," Vikings coach Dennis Green said. "(He's) one of the bigger corners and still has outstanding speed."

    Sehorn might get help from the green-painted dirt that serves as grass at Giants Stadium. Two of Moss' 17 touchdowns (including playoffs) came on grass fields, where he was held under 65 yards receiving in three of four games.

    "There's never bad footing on turf," Sehorn said. "There's never slipping. You know what you've got. On grass, it's unpredictable."

    One thing that is predictable is the Vikings will test the Giants secondary deep several times today with Moss.

    "They throw the ball down field and they do it six to eight times a game," Sehorn said. "Their philosophy is that someone's going to make a play eventually.

    "I think one of the things that I've noticed on film more than anything isn't the fact that he consistently just beats the guy across from him. It's if you fall asleep for one play, he will beat you. You've got to come to play every play."

    Like every team that attempts to cover Moss, the Giants have to do it with a safety over the top. That didn't seem to matter against the Saints. "He made them look bad," Giants safety Shaun Williams said. "He got the ball and I think (the Saints) thought they could take the normal angle they would with a normal receiver. But Moss is not a normal receiver. He has exceptional speed."

    "This is a guy who's going to try to embarrass you," Williams said. "He's going to try to make you look bad. But he's just a player. He's just a competitor."

    Maybe talk show host David Letterman offered Sehorn the best advice the other night when he told him to stand in front of Moss, spread his arms and hold on tight.

    "I would think I have a lot more left in me, that there's a lot more that I can still do," Sehorn said.

    - Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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