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Raiders UDFA rookie sends Patriots to Super Bowl

The Patriots and Ravens played in a hotly contested AFC Championship. The savior at the end of the game was none other than Raiders’ former undrafted free agent, Sterling Moore, who batted down a sure Raven touchdown that would have given the Ravens the victory.

I was a strong supporter of Sterling Moore in Raider camp this offseason. So much so that other members of the media mark whenever he had a big play by saying, “There’s your boy.”

Well, they have had several opportunities to mention “my boy” Sterling Moore of late as the rookie corner has been a dynamic addition to the Patriots’ secondary in recent weeks. Not only did he knock the ball out of Lee Evans’ hands in the end zone that would have given the Ravens the win, but he defended the next pass as well which brought out the Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff to attempt a field goal that would send it to overtime. Cundiff missed the field goal to give the Patriots the victory.

Moore’s performance to send the Patriots to Indianapolis is just his most recent heroics. He ended the Patriots’ regular season when he intercepted the Bills’ Ryan Fitzpatrick twice — one he returned for a touchdown. Not bad for an unheralded, undrafted rookie out of Southern Methodist.

Sterling Moore is a Bay Area product. He went to Deer Valley High School in Oakland and to nearby Laney College before transferring to SMU. The Raiders were his team growing up and he considered it a dream come true to have an opportunity to play for his favorite team and be so close to home.

Moore, by any account, had a great camp and preseason with the Raiders this year. He stood out among the Raider corners and shone a light on the poor play of the two rookies from last season. It was thought at the time that the only thing that could keep Sterling off the regular season roster was if the team insisted on keeping Walter McFadden and Jeremy Ware whom the team chose late in the 2010 draft. But McFadden and Ware were not on the final roster and despite that fact, Moore was not either. He was cut in favor of… Joe Porter?

Even though Moore did not make the final roster for the Raiders, he made it past waivers and was placed on the practice squad. Then just a month later, the team signed speedy cornerback castoff Ron Parker to the practice squad and released Sterling Moore. Two weeks later Joe Porter was cut and two weeks after that Parker was cut as well.

In the meantime, the New England Patriots signed Sterling and called him up to the regular season roster. Moore was active for the week six game for the Patriots and was released. At that moment, the Raiders had a chance to get Moore back if they chose to do so. They didn’t. The Patriots signed him to their practice squad and called him up to the active roster again for their week 11 contest. He has remained on their active roster ever since, and has seen significant playing time.

Now he is showing the kind of skills that had me raving about him during camp. He and Denarius Moore had some epic camp battles and it was not long before Raider fans and the rest of the world saw just how good Denarius would be. That should tell you how good Sterling would be as well. The Raiders should have seen that as well, but they didn’t. What they were left with instead was a thin secondary and bringing in Lito Sheppard off the street to start. The result was many blown coverages for the Raiders and a trip to the Super Bowl for the Patriots.

Happy tenth anniversary of the tuck rule game.

Also see: Raiders training camp day 8: Sterling has his day

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