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], Foxborough, Massachusetts
Referee Walt Coleman
Attendance 60,292
TV in the United States
Network CBS
Announcers Greg Gumbel and Phil Simms

The 2001 AFC divisional playoff game between the New England Patriots and the Oakland Raiders, also known as the Tuck Rule Game and the Snow Bowl,[2][3] 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, and was played under a heavy snowfall. The Patriots moved 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]

2001 AFC Divisional Round: Oakland Raiders at New England Patriots
1 2 3 4 OT Total
Raiders 0 7 6 0 0 13
Patriots 0 0 3 10 3 16

at Foxboro Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts

Game information

The Patriots were the #2 seed in the AFC playoffs, having posted an 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[4] vs. the New York Jets. Backup quarterback 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.

Both teams struggled in the heavy storm during the first half, combining for the same number of punts as first downs (11) and converting only one of 13 third downs. However, Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon was efficient, completing 10 of 14 passes for 87 yards. With 1:12 left in the first quarter, a 15-yard fair catch interference penalty against Patriots defensive back Je'Rod Cherry at the end of Ken Walter's 39-yard punt gave Oakland a first down at midfield, where they drove to a 7-0 lead on Gannon's 13-yard touchdown pass to James Jett. A few plays later, Raiders defensive back Johnnie Harris intercepted a pass from Brady on the Patriots 41-yard line, but New England's defense managed to force a punt, which would be the final result of every following drive until the end of the half.

In the second half, New England almost completely abandoned its running game and relied on Brady's passing. On the opening drive of the third quarter, he connected with David Patten for gains of 25 and 19 yards as he led the Patriots 62 yards in 12 plays to the Raiders' 5-yard line, where Adam Vinatieri made a 23-yard field goal to make it 7–3. But Terry Kirby returned the ensuing kickoff 22 yards to the Oakland 37-yard line, where the Raiders responded with a 10-play, 43-yard drive to score on a 38-yard field goal from Sebastian Janikowski. Then after Walter's 33-yard punt gave the Raiders a first down on their own 49, a 22-yard reception by receiver Jerry Rice set up Janikowski's second field goal, from 45 yards, giving the Raiders a 13–3 lead with two minutes left in the third quarter.

The Raiders appeared to be dominating to this point of the game. However, in the fourth quarter, Brady led the Patriots on a 10-play, 67-yard drive, completing nine consecutive passes for 61 yards and finishing it with a 6-yard touchdown run with 7:57 left that made the score 13-10. Later in the quarter, Patriots receiver Troy Brown returned Shane Lechler's 37-yard punt 27 yards to the Patriots 46-yard line. Brown fumbled the ball at the end of the return, but Pats linebacker Larry Izzo recovered it with 2:06 left on the clock. Brady then completed a seven-yard pass to Kevin Faulk before scrambling for five yards and running out of bounds to the Patriots' sideline, picking up a first down at the Oakland 42. New England had no timeouts left, but with the clock stopped, Brady here had a short conversation with offensive coordinator Charlie Weis.

The "tuck rule" play and call[edit]

With 1:50 left, Raiders cornerback Eric Allen, while lurking at the Patriots' sideline, heard Brady's talk with Weis. Allen stated that he heard the Patriots' play call. He then 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, with no open receivers. 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.[5]

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.[6]

This was not the first time the Patriots had seen the tuck rule invoked in the 2001 NFL season.[7] On September 23, Patriots defensive end Anthony Pleasant apparently forced Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde to fumble,[8] 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." [9]

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 Washington, abstained from the vote.[10]

The aftermath[edit]

Brady then completed a 13-yard pass to David Patten to the Raiders' 29. After two pass incompletions and a Brady scramble, 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. Three plays later, Antowain Smith picked up eight yards for a first down at the Oakland 9 and the Patriots, now going against the wind, fought to set up the game-winning kick. After Brady dove to the five and centered the ball, Vinatieri and holder Walter cleared snow away from where the ball would be spotted. Vinatieri pushed his 23-yard attempt through, giving the Patriots a 16–13 victory and advancing them to the AFC Championship Game. Brady ended up completing 26 of 39 passes for 238 yards in the second half. This was the final game at Foxboro Stadium since the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Patriots' next opponent, were the holders of home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

In the subsequent AFC Championship Game, the Patriots scored a 24–17 victory against the Steelers, 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 and began a period of dominance for the Patriots that included four more Super Bowls wins at XXXVIII, XXXIX, Super Bowl XLIX and Super Bowl LI.

It was also Gruden's last game as head coach for the Raiders, as he was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before the following season. The Raiders went to the Super Bowl one year later, but were beaten by Gruden and the Buccaneers 48–21. The Raiders did not make the playoffs again until 2016.

As of the end of the 2016 season, Coleman has officiated 215 more NFL games, including 17 more involving the New England Patriots, but none involving the Oakland Raiders.[11]

Starting lineups[edit]

Oakland Position New England
OFFENSE
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
DEFENSE
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

Officials[edit]

  • Referee: Walt Coleman (#65)
  • Umpire: Undrey Wash (#96)
  • Head Linesman: Dale Williams (#8)
  • Line Judge: Gary Arthur (#108)
  • Field Judge: Scott Edwards (#3)
  • Side Judge: Dean Look (#49)
  • Back Judge: Phil Luckett (#59)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/multimedia/photo_gallery/0906/nfl.moments.that.defined.2000s/images/tom-brady-tuck-rule.jpg
  2. ^ Silver, Michael (February 4, 2005). "The five most significant plays in recent NFL history". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  3. ^ Ross Jr., Sam (January 23, 2003). "After further review, coaches worth it". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. TRIB: Total Media. Archived from the original on December 11, 2007. Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  4. ^ Bump, Lary. "Bledsoe's near-death experience". Scout.com. Scout.com. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  5. ^ Tuck Rule Hard to Grasp Washington Post.
  6. ^ The Tuck Rule - 10 Year Anniversary. YouTube. January 22, 2012. 
  7. ^ "NFL rescinds 'tuck rule' - The Boston Globe". BostonGlobe.com. 
  8. ^ "New York Jets at New England Patriots - September 23rd, 2001 - Pro-Football-Reference.com". Pro-Football-Reference.com. 
  9. ^ YouTube. youtube.com. 
  10. ^ "'Tuck Rule' eliminated by wide margin at NFL Annual Meeting". NFL. Retrieved March 22, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Walt Coleman at Pro Football Reference". 

External links[edit]