AFC Championship 2012: Sterling Moore Emerges As An Unlikely Hero

If Lee Evans had secured Joe Flacco's pass in the end zone in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, the Baltimore Ravens would likely be headed to Super Bowl XLIV.

Instead, New England Patriots CB Sterling Moore became an unlikely hero when he calmly ripped the ball out of Evans grasp, a play which ended up being the difference in the game after Billy Cundiff shanked a 32-yard field goal attempt a few moments later.

Moore, an undrafted rookie out of SMU, did not even start playing football until his senior year of high school.

After two years of playing in the junior college ranks, he did not have a single Division I offer until his junior college coach showed his highlight tape to the SMU coaching staff at an off-season convention.

He made a mark in his first year on the Hilltop, with 1 INT, 11 pass deflections and 2.5 tackles for loss.

However, he suffered a knee injury early in his senior season, finishing the year with only 24 tackles in 8 games and slipping completely off the draft radar, with one site ranking him as the 113rd best CB in the 2011 draft.

Unlike most years, undrafted rookies like Moore were behind the eight ball in 2011, as the lockout prevented them from signing with teams until right before training camp.

Courtesy of Pats Pulpit, here's a look at his dizzying transaction history in the first few months of his NFL career:

In terms of his NFL career transactions, Moore first signed with the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted free agent on July 28th. He was released on September 3rd in Oakland's final roster cutdown, but was re-signed to their practice squad the next day after clearing waivers. On September 26th, he was released from Oakland's practice squad and landed on the Patriots' practice squad on October 5th. Moore was elevated to the team's active roster and played against the Dallas Cowboys on the 16th, but was released and landed back on the practice squad on the 17th. However, Moore was once again elevated to the team's active roster before the Jets game, when he made his first career start. He's been on the active roster since.

But no matter what happens from here, the Southern California native will always have that play at the end of the 2011 AFC Championship Game, when an undrafted rookie from Conference USA held part of the legacies of some of the NFL's greatest players -- Tom Brady, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed -- in his hands.

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