Ravens vs. Patriots: How Sterling Moore Saved New England's Season

Adam OdekirkContributor IIJanuary 22, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22:  Sterling Moore #29 of the New England Patriots breaks up a catch intended for Lee Evans #83 of the Baltimore Ravens late in the fourth quarter during their AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Not since Eric Dickerson rushed for over 2,000 yards has a former SMU Mustang had such a huge impact on the NFL.

Sterling Moore, the hero who knocked the ball away from Lee Evans in the end zone, went undrafted this last April and was lucky to be signed after the draft by the Oakland Raiders.

That luck quickly ran out for Moore when he was cut by the Raiders shortly after the beginning of the season.

As he so often does, Bill Belichick saw something in Sterling Moore that others didn't and decided to give him a chance to join the Patriots practice squad.

It wasn't until November that injuries allowed Moore to make his first start in the NFL against the New York Jets, and despite a decent performance, it didn't keep Moore from being cut again from an NFL roster.

Moore was cut on Dec. 10 and then promptly re-signed to the practice squad of New England on Dec. 14, further proof that the act of signing and cutting players is an art that is not often appreciated as it should be when done right.

Moore's breakout performance came in Week 17 when his two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, helped spur the Patriots to a comeback victory over Buffalo that helped ensure that New England would play their game against Baltimore at home in the playoffs.

If you are keeping score here, Sterling Moore went undrafted in April, has been cut twice this NFL season and was on the Patriots practice squad as early as December.

Yet he still managed to find his way to the corner of the end zone with Lee Evans in the AFC Championship game, and swipe the ball away, preventing what would have been the game-winning touchdown.

It will be a jubilant debate in New England over which contribution had more impact by Sterling Moore on the Patriots season? Helping secure home field by beating Buffalo, or knocking the touchdown out of Evans' hand to help punch New England's ticket to Indy?

No matter what people decide on that debate, the one thing that cannot be questioned is that nobody in New England expected for their Super Bowl fates to rest in the hands of Sterling Moore.

Tom Brady can probably only sit back and laugh. A team led by a late sixth-round draft pick, relied on the play of an undrafted, twice-cut defensive back to help lead them to the Super Bowl.