FOXBORO, Mass. — It was normal to have visions of Randy Moss on Aaron Dobson‘s huge 81-yard touchdown grab.
Dobson got separation from Ike Taylor down the left sideline, threw his hand up and caught a bomb from Tom Brady, the kind of throw the signal-caller has seemed to have trouble with lately.
“Ike Taylor, he just kind of jumped, jumped the run and I just knew I had him beat,” Dobson said. “So me and Tom just connected on the deep ball.”
The 81-yard grab was just the exclamation point to an already impressive performance from the rookie receiver. In all, the Marshall product had five catches on nine targets for 130 yards and two touchdowns.
“The safeties were getting low and we took a shot,” Brady said. Josh [McDaniels] made a great call and AD slipped behind him. We were talking about that play all week and giving him a chance to get behind the defense. He’s done it a few times this year and when you connect like that it’s a pretty sweet way to end the game in the fourth quarter.”
Dobson has been told at practice to alert Brady when he feels he’s open.
“We work that on our practice, man,” Dobson said. “As soon as he said I get open and I feel like I’m open, just throw my hand up so he knows when to let the ball go.”
It appeared as though Taylor and safety Ryan Clark bit on the run, giving Dobson even more space to sprint down the sideline. Once he caught the ball, it was off to races.
Dobson’s first touchdown wasn’t quite as flashy, but it may have been the more impressive play. Brady threw the ball to Dobson’s back shoulder. That’s a play where the receiver has to whip his head around at the last second to make the catch in the end zone.
“I feel like — just adjusting to it. Just seeing it quick,” Dobson said about what’s important on those back-shoulder catches. “You just got to get your head around. You see that back throw. You just have to adjust with it.
“I think that’s the first back shoulder we’ve hit all year. So I feel like they’re going to start coming out.”
Dobson’s come a long way from the first few weeks of the season. He looked lost at times and had major issues with drops. That’s what earned him the undeserved nickname “Dropson” around these parts.
Fans who once called their rookie receiver that moniker may feel dumb after long. Dobson may turn out to be the deep threat option they’ve been begging for ever since Randy Moss found himself traded to the Vikings.
Dobson certainly has the size and speed for it. And on Sunday, he showed he can make the adjustments needed to exploit a defense for a big gain.
“All the work is paying off,” Dobson said. “All the extra things we do. Just he meetings, just extra things on the field are paying off.”
It certainly appears they are. The Patriots are going into the bye at 7-2 and with so many injuries on defense, the offense is going to have to step up. On Sunday, they did just that as even more New England defenders his the injured pile.
Through the first few weeks of the season, the storyline was that the rookie receivers had to step up, even if it was just one of them. Because once Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola and Shane Vereen were back, only one may be necessary. Dobson has taken the reins. And he has confidence entering the rest of the season.
“I’m just learning, man,” Dobson said. “I’m just getting comfortable in the offense. I still have a long way to go. I’m just more comfortable than when I first got here.”
Dobson now has 31 catches for 454 yards through eight games. The hope was that a rookie receiver would be better than Chad Jackson, Taylor Price or Brandon Tate. Dobson’s been better than all three combined.