Huddle Up

NFL News and Analysis with Andrew Perloff

Perloff
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  • 01:51 AM ET  11.19

Tom Brady  has wrapped up the MVP and Tony Romo, who is on pace to throw 43 touchdowns, has a good chance at finishing in the top three in the voting.

But perhaps everyone is overlooking Randy Moss and Terrell Owens as legitimate candidates, even though the Associated Press has never named a receiver MVP. Maybe Brady's and Romo's super seasons are mostly a result of their future Hall of Fame receivers.

When Moss and Owens show up, funny things happen to quarterbacks' number. Consider:

* Randall Cunningham came out of retirement at 35 and threw a career-high 34 TDs in 1998, his one season with Moss.

* A supposedly washed up Jeff George was exiled from Oakland and threw 23 touchdowns in 14 games with Moss as his prime target in '99.

* Daunte Culpepper averaged 2.6 touchdowns per game when he was teammates with Moss in Minnesota. He's thrown .8 TDs per game since the two have been separated.

* Jeff Garcia threw for 4,288 yards in 2000 with Owens in San Francisco. That's the 30th most yards ever by a QB in a season. And he threw 31 TDs in '00 and 32 TDs in '01. He's thrown 34 TDs in the 3 ½ seasons since he left San Francisco.

* Donovan McNabb threw 31 TDs and completed 64 percent of his passes his first season with Owens. His highs without T.O. is 25 touchdowns and a 59.1 completion percentage.

Brady and Romo are also thriving off the Moss and Owens effect.

Although it's considered sacrilege to discuss Brady as anything but God's gift to quarterbacking, even your average supermodel knows the Pats QB has never had a season like this one. He has 38 touchdowns through 10 games, and his career high for a season is 28.

And if you took T.O. out of the equation, there's no telling what kind of QB Romo would be. The Cowboys quarterback has thrown 22 of his 46 career TD passes to Owens.

Moss and Owens help QBs' numbers in so many ways. Moss allows Brady to simply toss it deep and has turned what would be interceptions into spectacular touchdowns. In Sunday night's four-touchdown performance against the Bills, Moss didn't even appear to be running patterns. He was just running downfield and grabbing the ball away from everyone. And Owens' ability to run after the catch has padded Romo's numbers all season, like when he streaked down the sideline for his fourth touchdown against the 'Skins on Sunday. 

Not to mention how much extra time in the pocket both QBs get because teams are scared to death to blitz a DB for fear of single-covering Moss and Owens. Brady, in particular, has had more time to throw than any quarterback in recent memory.

And when they're behaving, Moss and T.O. add a swagger to an offense that lifts everyone's game. Brady has always been confident, but now he seems intent on making defenses look bad on every play. And Romo has extra confidence because he knows he has T.O. as a safety valve.

I won't argue against Brady winning the MVP, because he is just about perfect. But maybe we should add an asterisk, to acknowledge Moss' impact on his record-setting season. I'll call Don Shula and ask what he thinks.

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