By Danny Picard
FOXBORO -- Second-year cornerback Kyle Arrington had the tough task of covering Randy Moss for most of the game on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. With some help over the top from safety Brandon Meriweather, Arrington got the job done, limiting Moss to only one reception for eight yards, while the Patriots defeated the Vikings 28-18.
But with double coverage on Moss, that opened things up for the Vikings' other flashy wideout, Percy Harvin.
Harvin had 6 receptions for 104 yards, but it was the one that was taken away from him, literally, that opened up Sunday's game.
Credit that to Patriots rookie cornerback Devin McCourty, who intercepted a Brett Favre pass that Harvin seemed to come down with in the third quarter. But as Harvin was falling to the ground with the ball, McCourty came over and basically ripped the ball out of his hands in a most bizarre type of exchange. McCourty took the ball away and ran 37 yards downfield, to the Vikings' 37-yard line.
"It was a little strange the way [Harvin] went to catch the ball," said McCourty. "I guess it bobbled a little and I was able to get my hand in there and then the ball bounced straight in the air, so I was able to intercept it."
The Patriots led by only four points at the time, 14-10, but McCourty's interception set up a 13-yard touchdown run by BenJarvus Green-Ellis, which gave New England a commanding 21-10 lead late in the third quarter.
It was, by all accounts, a game-changing play. And McCourty, by all accounts, has become a game-changing player in his so-very-young NFL career. His interception on Sunday marked the second interception of the season for the rookie. His first came last Sunday in San Diego.
McCourty has established himself as the team's top cornerback, and Patriots coach Bill Belichick praised him after Sunday's win for becoming such a solid player, so quickly.
"Devin has done a great job for us," said Belichick. "Once again, he came up with big plays today, several of them. He helps us on defense. He is a good, solid player. He's smart. He learns well. He really can execute the defensive system very consistently. He's been good in man and zone coverage. He tackles well. He's a smart kid, and I'm glad we have him."
Danny Picard is on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DannyPicard