Super Bowl 2013: Shutting Down Randy Moss Is a Must for Ravens

Christopher LeoneSenior Analyst IJanuary 23, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 20:  Wide receiver Randy Moss #84 of the San Francisco 49ers runs after a catch in the third quarter against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome on January 20, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers have the best offense in the NFL, led by running back Frank Gore, wide receiver Michael Crabtree and breakout star quarterback Colin Kaepernick. All three will pose major problems for the Baltimore Ravens as they attempt to give Ray Lewis a championship in his final NFL game.

But if the Ravens really want to shut down the high-powered Niners, there's one player they're really going to have to watch out for: Randy Moss.

Laugh all you want at the suggestion that the 35-year-old Moss, branded a troublemaker more than once over the course of his career, could make a difference in a Super Bowl dominated by personalities that have eclipsed his.

But don't sleep on Moss' determination to finally get a Super Bowl ring—a level of motivation that could see him unleash the Randy of old.

His first shot came in 1998 with the Minnesota Vikings, who dominated the regular season with a 15-1 record. That year, Moss set a rookie record with 17 touchdown receptions. But Gary Anderson's missed field goal sent the NFC Championship Game against the Falcons into overtime, and Atlanta stunned the Vikings with a 30-27 victory.

Moss' next best shot came in 2007, his first year as a member of the New England Patriots. With Tom Brady throwing to him, Moss set a single-season record with 23 touchdown receptions, as the Patriots won the first 18 games of their season. But once again, Moss' heavily favored team was stunned by an underdog, this time the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII.

After his career began to derail in 2010, Moss decided to retire, skipping the 2011 season. But the retirement proved short-lived, and when an opportunity to join the 49ers arose, he couldn't pass up the opportunity to join another team with a real shot to win a championship.

Moss has been labeled a selfish player over his career. But there comes a time where many players grow out of that phase, and it becomes all about winning a championship.

Having the second most touchdown receptions of all time, behind only Niners legend Jerry Rice, is nice, but at 35, Moss doesn't have too many years left to win a ring. Though the 49ers have enough talent to build a dynasty, there's no sense in wasting any more chances.

Baltimore can stuff up the middle to limit Gore and LaMichael James in the running game. They can double-team receivers like Crabtree and Vernon Davis, and don't be shocked if Lewis is assigned to spy Kaepernick for much of the game.

But if they don't watch out for Randy Moss, he's going to take over the game the way he did as a Viking or Patriot. Forget Lewis—Moss is the veteran to watch on Super Bowl Sunday.

For more from Christopher Leone, follow @christopherlion on Twitter.