ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The physical scar serves as Rahim Moore’s motivation. So, too, the emotional one.
But the Broncos free safety doesn’t want to ponder either one this weekend in his first playoff game since his infamous gaffe two years ago, which led to a franchise-jolting, double-overtime loss to Baltimore.
Moore missed Denver’s drive to the Super Bowl last year after a rare muscle condition cut short his eye-catching comeback at midseason and sent him to the hospital where surgeons saved his left leg.
When he returned to the practice field this spring, sporting a 13-inch scar that serpentines down his left calf, he cried.
Moore doesn’t expect the tears to flow when the Broncos (12-4) face the Indianapolis Colts (12-5) on Sunday, one day shy of the two-year anniversary of his blunder against Baltimore and 14 months after his emergency operation.
“I’m not anxious about anything,” Moore said, pledging to stay even-keeled until the game clock hits all zeros.
“Don’t dwell on the past, you’ve got to be futuristic,” Moore said. “I’m going to go out there and do what I’ve been doing all year.”
What he did was have another solid season, this time in the shadows of the Broncos’ three Pro Bowl defensive backs: Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward and Chris Harris Jr.
In the hushed locker room following his ball-through-Buckner’s-legs moment against Baltimore, Moore promised next time to make the play and make up for his mistake — going for the ball instead of the tackle at the 30, then mistiming his jump.
To do that, he knows he can’t let his thirst for redemption get in the way.
He said he plans to “just go out there and act like it’s a normal game, still keep the same preparations, still get after it, still work hard, don’t try to say, ‘Oh, you have this bad taste in your mouth.’ No, just go out there and make a play. When you make a play, all that stuff is over.”
In Andrew Luck, Moore will be facing another quarterback who can sling it just like Joe Flacco did when he hit Jacoby Jones for that 70-yard TD in the final minute of regulation. Luck also brings mobility and size.
“Andrew Luck has elite speed and then when you try to tackle him, he may run you over, he may sidestep you,” Moore said. “He’s tough, too. He’s got good size. He’s one of those guys where you watch him on film, you’re like, ‘Man, he’s fantastic.’ But you hope he’s not fantastic versus you.”
Two of Moore’s four interceptions this season came against Luck in the opener, which Denver won 31-24 after going up 24-0 at halftime and 31-10 in the fourth quarter.
Moore also collected 50 tackles this season, broke up five passes, forced two fumbles and recovered one.
“He’s done a tremendous job,” coach John Fox said. “You bring up (his bouncing back) from that particular play, it speaks a lot for the kind of young man and human being he is as well as a football player. He’s played good football for us. He’s had a very good season. He’s a big reason why we’re where we are defensively.”
According to the advanced statistics of Pro Football Focus, Moore had one of the best seasons of any safety in the NFL, leading the league in coverage snaps (688) and cover snaps per target (31.1) and ranking third in yards per cover snap (0.27) and cover snaps per reception (40.5).
So, his pledge to just keep doing what he’s doing could prove crucial and might even provide a dollop of redemption.
“I’m not eager. I’m not anxious,” Moore said. “I just want to go out there and have fun and just play as a team. And if we do that, man, I think we’ll be fine.”
By Arnie Stapleton, AP Pro Football Writer
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