The great thing about the NFL is that there are so many positions that every year, there is almost always at least one player who has a breakout year on every team, no matter how good or bad the team is. This is one part in a 32 part segment detailing one potential breakout player (rookies don’t count) for the 2013 NFL season on each NFL team. For the Denver Broncos, that player is safety Rahim Moore.
Most casual football fans know Rahim Moore for one thing, his role in the Mile High Miracle in Denver’s eventual playoff loss to the Ravens in last year’s AFC divisional round. For those of you who need a refresher, the heavily underdogged Ravens trailed by 7 with the ball on their own 30 with under 40 seconds left in the 4th quarter. The Broncos came out in prevent defense, as is always the case in that type of situation, and the #1 rule of the prevent defense is don’t let anything get completed behind you. Play deep and don’t jump any routes. If you only allow completions in front of you, eventually the clock will run out and you’ll win. It’s very fundamental football stuff and it’s especially imperative for a safety. They’re called safeties for a reason; they are the last line of the defense.
Rahim Moore, starting free safety for the Broncos, decided instead to try to be a hero and the rest was history. Moore jumped a route on a deep ball thrown from Joe Flacco to Jacoby Jones, going for the interception and the ultimate icer. Not only did he break one of the biggest rules of prevent defense, he missed by a good 5 yards and didn’t even come close to getting the interception, falling in his attempt to pick off the ball. This allowed Jones to get behind him easily and reel in what ended up being a 70 yard touchdown to send the game to overtime, where the Ravens eventually won, sending home the heavily favored #1 seed Broncos home early and spurring an eventual Super Bowl Championship for the Ravens.
That play was an absolute disaster for Moore and he’s undoubtedly spent the entire off-season trying to move past that. However, you cannot judge a player on one play. While that is the worst single snap I’ve seen a safety play in years, Moore played 1160 other snaps last season, including playoffs and was overall a very solid football player. He should be judged more on those instead and have his entire body of work taken into account. He finished the regular season as ProFootballFocus’ 10th rated safety, grading out above average in both run defense and pass defense and only committing 2 penalties. He allowed just 19 completions all regular season and even in that playoff game he was otherwise solid, not missing a tackle and allowing just one other completion for 5 yards.
Going into his 3rd year in the league, I expect the 2011 2nd round pick out of UCLA to put the Mile High Miracle behind him and have his best season as a pro yet. I expect another top-10 season on ProFootballFocus from him and he’ll have a shot at a Pro-Bowl if he picks off enough passes. Sadly that’s how all defensive backs are judged by the common football fan and Moore only has 2 in his 2 seasons in the league, but he picked off 10 as a sophomore at UCLA in 2009, so he has that kind of ability (which just shows why a player shouldn’t be judged by only his interception total, it’s so inconsistent on a year to year basis; it’s like judging a quarterback on how many completions of 40+ yards he has). For his sake, I hope that happens because it’s unfair for him to be judged by one play and one play only.