METAIRIE, La. — Lance Moore isn’t an imposing figure.
Listed generously at 5-foot-9, the New Orleans Saints receiver isn’t towering over opponents’ defensive backs.
But what he lacks in stature he makes up for in other ways.
Well, it’s mostly one ginormous way - ripping out the hearts of those he’s playing against with big catch after big catch after big catch.
“He is a clutch receiver,” all-everything quarterback Drew Brees said. “He is a go-to receiver. He is a dependable guy, a guy that I have a ton of confidence in. There is nothing he can’t do. He is probably one of the smoothest route runners, ball catchers that I’ve ever been around.”
The Saints (2-4) travel to Denver (3-3) for a Sunday night showdown this weekend and, it being nationally televised, gives Moore an opportunity to show once again what he can do.
If folks were watching this past Sunday, however, they’ve already seen Moore at his soul-destroying best against Tampa Bay.
Time and again the Buccaneers had the Saints in third-down situations – 15, to be exact. And time and again, Brees went to his the trusty Moore, with coming up with 2/3’s of the team’s third-down conversions.
Third-and-one at the Bucs’ 19? No problem. A two-yard completion was followed by a 17-yard touchdown strike to Marques Colston.
Third-and-10 in the second quarter? No worries. Moore caught a 13-yard pass that time on a drive that eventually ended in a touchdown pass to Darren Sproles.
Three more in the second quarter all helped extend scoring drives.
And on the eventual game-winning drive, Brees found Moore for 35 yards on a third-and-six from the Saints’ 9.
Moore’s third-down grabs totaled 88 yards and in all, he recorded nine catches for 121 yards. It was his second 100-yard game of the season and sixth of his career.
“(Sunday) was one of those days where the ball was going to go in the air,” Moore said. “With Jimmy (Graham) being out, there were going to be more touches for people. For me, a lot of those balls were coming my way.”
Moore was the prototypical underdog, working harder than anyone for years before making the 53-man roster full-time in 2007, two years after leaving Toledo.
He worked his way into a mainstay on the roster and caught one of the most memorable two-point conversions in club history in the Super Bowl win over Indianapolis.
This season, he has28 passes for 408 yards and two touchdowns. That’s good enough for 30th in the entire NFL. His 11 catches on third-down are tied for 14th-most in the NFL. And of his 28 catches, 26 have gone for first downs, tied for 26th in the league.
Don’t worry about offending Moore by calling him a possession receiver. He’ll take whatever description you want to call him as long as he’s in the NFL and his team is winning.
“Everybody wants to be the lead dog,” Moore said. “But, once you understand your role and are okay with accepting it, that’s when you can become the type of player you want to become. If I’m the possession guy and I’m catching nine balls for 120 yards or so, I’m fine with that. If I’m catching three balls for 27 yards and we’re winning the game, I’m fine with that. As long as we’re winning the game, it doesn’t really matter to me.”