The Pats started a handful of undrafted free agents — who aren't exactly household names — in the 37-16 rout of Rex Ryan's bunch. And not only did the rag-tag group show up and put forth a solid effort, but many of the fill-ins showed that they could play a crucial role for the Pats down the stretch and potentially into the postseason.
Cornerback Phillip Adams, a former seventh-round pick of the 49ers in 2010, is just 23 years old. He broke his ankle while playing special teams for San Francisco last season, though, and was subsequently released this past September. But the Pats liked what they saw from the young corner, giving him an opportunity just a couple of weeks later. They then waived him before re-signing him shortly thereafter.
Adams has played in four games with the Patriots, totaling four tackles.
Another newly added cornerback, Antwaun Molden, is 26 years old. After being drafted by the Houston Texans in the third round of the 2008 NFL draft out of Eastern Kentucky, he spent three seasons with the team before eventually being waived on Aug. 30. The Pats, needing secondary depth, claimed him the next day.
Molden has appeared in nine games with New England, picking up 16 tackles. He was benched two weeks ago, but he played a significant role in the Pats' defeat of the Jets on Sunday.
Sterling Moore, also a new addition to the Patriots' secondary, is so unknown that NBC didn't even have a video intro to play for him during Sunday's broadcast. Instead, a still shot was used.
But that didn't affect the 21-year-old, as he played well at safety, which marked not only the first time in his life he played the position, but it was his first career start. Moore, who played at Southern Methodist University, was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Oakland Raiders this past offseason, before eventually joining the Pats.
Jeff Tarpinian had the same problem as Moore when it came to the pregame intros, but like his teammate, he also stepped up against the Jets. Tarpinian saw his first extended action on defense. The Iowa product, who's just 24 years old, also signed with the Pats as an undrafted free agent.
So, sure, these names aren't all that familiar to casual football fans now. But who could we soon be talking about in a positive light more and more frequently?