January 19, 2002
The “Tuck Rule” Game
Photo Credit: Oakland Raiders Blog
Nine years ago the New England Patriots played the Oakland Raiders in an AFC Divisional Playoff game. Played in New England, it was a very snowy setting. With about 90 seconds remaining, the Pats were down by 3 but had the ball. Quarterback Tom Brady dropped back to pass and after a pump fake, fumbled and the Raiders recovered. Although the play was under review, the replay appeared that Brady had possession of the ball before being hit and fumbling the ball. But according to the official, there was no fumble, only an incomplete pass. NFL rules state:
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.
This extremely controversial rule allowed the Patriots to tie and eventually win the game. New England wouldn’t stop there as they would defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers and then the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.
This is footage of the play which occurs at 3:35 in the video: