Who would have thought the New England Patriots would rely on an undrafted rookie who had barely seen action on the field, would be one of the key reasons they are now headed to the Super Bowl?
Safety Sterling Moore made his debut on November 13, 2011 in the Patriots 37-16 victory over the New York Jets. He made one tackle.
Moore contributed for the next few weeks with a pair of tackles in the next two games, and another tackle the following week. Needless to say, he did his job but went widely unnoticed.
In the final game of the season against the Buffalo Bills on January 1, 2012, Moore made a name for himself, at least among New England fans with a pair of pass deflections and a pair of interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
In the Divisional Playoffs against the Denver Broncos he recorded a tackle and a pair of pass deflections. It was a solid performance for the young player who would likely evolve into a key element in the defense next season.
It was in the AFC Conference Championship Sterling would become widely known throughout the NFL.
It was his two game-saving break-ups with less than 30 seconds remaining in the game that was the difference between going to the Super Bowl and calling it a season for the Patriots.
He had a storied season spending his first three weeks of the season on the Oakland Raiders' practice squad before he was cut. He signed with New England in October and was cut in November. He signed to the Patriots' practice squad and was promoted once again for the final game of the season.
With his entire career on the line, Moore stepped up when it mattered most.
"Those are the things that go through your head. You're just thinking, 'I gotta make this play, I don't want to be the reason we don't go to the Super Bowl" Moore stated.
Thankfully, because he still felt like he had something to prove to management, coaches, and fans, he came through when it mattered most.
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Paul Rados is an avid New England Patriots fan and a Featured Contributor for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @PSRados or leave him a message on Facebook. For a complete look at his freelance work please visit his Blog.