CHICAGO -- In a season that has featured contributions from unexpected sources, another player can be added to the list after Sunday's 36-7 blowout win over the Bears.
Hello Eric Moore.
The five-year veteran played in his first game as a Patriot and recorded four tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
"I'm excited and thankful that God gave me the opportunity to go out there and play, and thankful to Coach Belichick for bringing me in," Moore said in an upbeat Patriots locker room. "It's great, with all the guys embracing me and helping me out, learning this defense."
Moore played Sunday as part of a nickel defense (5 defensive backs), rushing off the left defensive edge. He came on in the second quarter and made an immediate impact.
With the Patriots already leading 24-0, he strip-sacked Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on first down, with linebacker Jerod Mayo recovering.
"I was just hustling, but you have to give credit to the other d-tackles and the d-end. They pushed the pocket and made him come back to me," he explained. "I was just hustling and had the opportunity to make the tackle."
On the next drive, Moore broke through the line and stopped running back Matt Forte for a 5-yard loss on first down.
With Moore coming up big, some Patriots might have been asking, "Who is he?"
The 29-year-old played at Florida State and was a sixth-round draft choice of the Giants in 2005. After playing in eight games as a rookie, Moore split his second season between the Saints and Rams. He would go on to play the next two seasons with St. Louis, recording one sack in each year. After being released with an injury settlement in September of 2009, he spent the last two months of last season, and all of this preseason, with the Panthers.
Moore played most of this season for the Florida Tuskers of the United Football League. Since he was on the Tuskers’ roster for the league’s championship game on Nov. 26, any NFL team wishing to sign him would have to pay a negotiable $25,000 “transfer fee” to the UFL.
The Patriots didn't pay it when they signed Moore to a two-year contract on Dec. 3, so it's assumed that Moore himself, or his agent, paid it.
He's thrilled to be back in the NFL and with an 11-2 team.
"I'm just thankful, man," he said.