Tuck Rule Game

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2001 AFC divisional playoff game
1 2 3 4 OT Total
OAK 0 7 6 0 0 13
NE 0 0 3 10 3 16
Date January 19, 2002
Stadium Foxboro Stadium[1]
Location Foxborough, Massachusetts
Referee Walt Coleman
Attendance 60,292
Network CBS
Announcers Greg Gumbel and Phil Simms

The 2001 AFC divisional playoff game, also known as the "Tuck Rule Game,"[2] "Snow Bowl,"[3][4] or the "Snow Job,"[5][6] was a playoff game between the New England Patriots and the Oakland Raiders. It took place on January 19, 2002, at Foxboro Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, the former home stadium of the Patriots. This was also the final game ever played at Foxboro Stadium, with the Patriots moving to Gillette Stadium the following season.

The name "Tuck Rule Game" originates from the controversial game-changing play. In the play, Raiders' cornerback Charles Woodson sacked Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady, which in turn, initially appeared to cause a fumble that was eventually recovered by Raiders' linebacker Greg Biekert, and, if it was a fumble, would have almost certainly sealed the game. Officials reviewed the play, and eventually determined that even though Brady had seemingly halted his passing motion and was attempting to 'tuck' the ball back into his body, it was an incomplete pass and not a fumble under the then-effective NFL rules. As a result, the original call was overturned, and the ball was given back to the Patriots, who subsequently moved the ball into field goal range.

With under a minute remaining in regulation, Patriots' placekicker Adam Vinatieri kicked a 45-yard field goal to tie the game at 13, which sent the game into overtime. In the subsequent overtime, Vinatieri kicked a 23-yard field goal to win the game for the Patriots. New England went on to win Super Bowl XXXVI.

The Game[edit]

The Patriots were the #2 seed in the AFC playoffs, having posted a 11-5 win-loss record in the regular season. The season had been wild for the Patriots, who began the year 0-2 after veteran quarterback Drew Bledsoe suffered a sheared blood vessel in his chest[7] vs. the New York Jets. Backup quarterback took Tom Brady then led the offense to a playoff berth. The 10-6 Oakland Raiders were the #3 seed and had beaten the Jets in an AFC Wild Card game, 38-24.

The Raiders appeared to dominate most of the game, building a 13-3 fourth-quarter lead with just 8:00 remaining. However, Tom Brady rushed for a touchdown with 7:57 left to cut the lead to 13-10.

The "tuck rule" play and call[edit]

With the game winding down, the Patriots drove the ball down the field, having taken over at their own 46-yard line with 2:06 to play. On a timeout, Raiders cornerback Eric Allen, while lurking at the Patriots' sideline, heard Brady talking to the offensive coordinator. Allen states that he heard Brady call a "3 by 1 slants" route. Right after hearing the play, Allen rushed to his sideline and told his team what he had heard. While the Patriots were slightly out of field-goal range, Brady dropped back to pass, using the same play he had told his coordinator. While pumping the football, Brady was hit on his right side by Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson. While it appeared that Brady had tucked the ball back towards his body, the referees were not sure and ruled it a fumble so they could review the play.

In 1999, though, a new rule had been introduced, which eventually became known as the tuck rule:

NFL Rule 3, Section 22, Article 2, Note 2. When [an offensive] player is holding the ball to pass it forward, any intentional forward movement of his arm starts a forward pass, even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body. Also, if the player has tucked the ball into his body and then loses possession, it is a fumble.[8]

The tackle that generated controversy

After a video-replay review, referee Walt Coleman reversed the call, declaring the play an incomplete forward pass and giving possession back to New England. Coleman's announcement stated that the ball was moving forward at the time at which it was dropped. Thus, the original call was overturned, and New England maintained possession.

Because the play was initially ruled a fumble, instant-replay rules required the referee to see "incontrovertible visual evidence" on the replay that Brady had not "tucked the ball into his body and then {lost} possession" of it before reversing the original call on the field. In 2012, on the ten-year anniversary of the game, Coleman told ESPN that he did not see Brady lose the ball, and, as NFL refs were trained to do in this situation, ruled it a fumble because that call could be reviewed while an incomplete pass could not; once he saw a replay, Coleman quickly reversed his previous ruling, telling ESPN it was an "easy" call.[9]

This was not the first time the Patriots had seen the tuck rule invoked in the 2001 NFL season.[10] On September 23, Patriots defensive end Anthony Pleasant apparently forced Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde to fumble,[11] but the call was overturned upon review and ruled an incomplete pass. In the aftermath of the Tuck Rule Game, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told ESPN, "I knew what the ruling should have been because we had dealt with that play a little bit earlier in the year on the other side of it." [12]

The tuck rule was abolished on March 20, 2013, by a 29–1 vote of current teams. The Pittsburgh Steelers voted against abolishment, while two teams, the Patriots and the Washington Redskins, abstained from the vote.[13]

The aftermath[edit]

Brady then completed a 13-yard pass to David Patten to the Raiders' 29. Shortly thereafter, Vinatieri came on to hit a game-tying 45-yard field goal through the snow with just 27 seconds left. After the ensuing kickoff, the Raiders decided not to attempt to advance the ball and let the game go to overtime.

The Patriots won the toss and took the ball to start overtime. They drove 61 yards in 15 plays, with Brady completing all eight of his pass attempts for 45 yards. On fourth down and 4 from the Raiders' 28, Brady hit Patten for a six-yard completion and the Patriots, now going against the wind, fought to set up the game-winning kick. Vinatieri and holder Ken Walter cleared snow away from where the ball would be spotted before Vinatieri pushed his attempt through, giving the Patriots a 16–13 victory. It was the final game at Foxboro Stadium, because the Pittsburgh Steelers, holders of home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, had won their divisional playoff game.

With the win, the Patriots advanced to the AFC Championship Game against the Steelers, where they scored a 24–17 victory, and then defeated the NFC champion St. Louis Rams 20–17 in Super Bowl XXXVI on a last-second field goal by Vinatieri. The Super Bowl championship was the first in team history, but the Patriots would go on to win three more Super Bowls: XXXVIII, XXXIX and XLIX.

The Raiders would go to the Super Bowl one year later, but were beaten by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their former head coach Jon Gruden by the score of 48–21. The Raiders have neither gone to the playoffs nor had a winning season since.

As of the end of the 2014 season, Coleman has officiated 198 more NFL games, including 15 more involving the New England Patriots (including the playoffs), but none involving the Oakland Raiders.[14]

Starting lineups[edit]

Oakland Position New England
Tim Brown WR Troy Brown
Barry Sims LT Matt Light
Steve Wisniewski LG Mike Compton
Adam Treu C Damien Woody
Frank Middleton RG Joe Andruzzi
Lincoln Kennedy RT Greg Robinson-Randall
Roland Williams TE Rod Rutledge
Jerry Rice WR David Patten
Rich Gannon QB Tom Brady
Charlie Garner RB Antowain Smith
Jon Ritchie FB Marc Edwards
Regan Upshaw LE Bobby Hamilton
Rod Coleman LDT Brandon Mitchell
Grady Jackson RDT Riddick Parker
Tony Bryant RE Anthony Pleasant
William Thomas LOLB Mike Vrabel
Greg Biekert MLB Tedy Bruschi
Elijah Alexander ROLB Roman Phifer
Charles Woodson LCB Ty Law
Eric Allen RCB Otis Smith
Johnnie Harris SS Lawyer Milloy
Anthony Dorsett FS Tebucky Jones

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/multimedia/photo_gallery/0906/nfl.moments.that.defined.2000s/images/tom-brady-tuck-rule.jpg
  2. ^ Sando, Mike (January 25, 2008). "Reviewing instant replay's controversial playoff history". ESPN. Retrieved March 16, 2008. 
  3. ^ Myers, Gary (February 5, 2002). "Repeat After Me, Pats Won't". Daily News (New York). 
  4. ^ "Patriots Reflect on ‘Snow Bowl’ During 10-Year Anniversary of Tuck Rule Game - New England Patriots - NESN.com". NESN.com. 
  5. ^ Silver, Michael (February 4, 2005). "The five most significant plays in recent NFL history". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  6. ^ Ross Jr., Sam (January 23, 2003). "After further review, coaches worth it". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. TRIB: Total Media. Retrieved September 19, 2007. [dead link]
  7. ^ Bump, Lary. "Bledsoe's near-death experience". Scout.com. Scout.com. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  8. ^ Tuck Rule Hard to Grasp Washington Post.
  9. ^ The Tuck Rule - 10 Year Anniversary. YouTube. January 22, 2012. 
  10. ^ "NFL rescinds ‘tuck rule’ - The Boston Globe". BostonGlobe.com. 
  11. ^ "New York Jets at New England Patriots - September 23rd, 2001 - Pro-Football-Reference.com". Pro-Football-Reference.com. 
  12. ^ YouTube. youtube.com. 
  13. ^ "'Tuck Rule' eliminated by wide margin at NFL Annual Meeting". NFL. Retrieved March 22, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Walt Coleman at Pro Football Reference". 

External links[edit]