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Tuck Rule Game

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

2001 AFC Divisional Playoff game
Foxboro Stadium, site of the game
1234OT Total
OAK 07600 13
NE 003103 16
DateJanuary 19, 2002
StadiumFoxboro Stadium[1], Foxborough, Massachusetts
RefereeWalt Coleman
TV in the United States
AnnouncersGreg 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 or the Snow Bowl,[2][3] or sometimes referred to as Snow Bowl 2, took place on January 19, 2002, at Foxboro Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, the former home stadium of the Patriots. The game, played under a heavy snowfall, was the last at Foxboro Stadium.

The name Tuck Rule Game originates from the controversial game-changing play. In the 4th quarter play, Raiders' cornerback Charles Woodson tackled Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady, which initially appeared to cause a fumble eventually recovered by Raiders' linebacker Greg Biekert. If it was a fumble, it would have almost certainly sealed the game for Oakland. 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, beginning a run of championships with Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, appearing in nine and winning six.

The game

2001 AFC Divisional Round: Oakland Raiders at New England Patriots
1 2 34OTTotal
Raiders 0 7 60013
Patriots 0 0 310316

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

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 a blitzing Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson. While it appeared that Brady had tucked the ball back towards his body, the officials 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
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 Raiders complained extensively that the call was wrong, and that it was made against them because the league had a vendetta against the team, an attitude quarterback Rich Gannon said was "totally nonsense."[10] Several Raiders players and observers also said that the Tuck Rule led to head coach Jon Gruden's departure from the team, as owner Al Davis was apparently angry that Gruden did not protest the call vehemently enough. Gruden was dismissive of Davis' views on the matter, and the subsequent breakdown in relations between owner and coach led to Gruden being traded to Tampa Bay and becoming their head coach in 2002 (Gruden would return to the Raiders in 2018 after spending a stint as a broadcaster with ESPN).

The tuck rule was abolished on March 20, 2013, by a 29–1 vote of current teams.[11] The Pittsburgh Steelers voted against abolition, while two teams, the Patriots and Redskins, abstained from the vote.[12] Patriots owner Robert Kraft noted that Al Davis was probably looking down from the afterlife and happy that the rule had been abolished.


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, a kick considered by many to have been one of the most difficult kicks in NFL history. 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 dived to the 5 and centered the ball, Vinatieri set kicked a 23-yard field goal, 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.

The Patriots went on to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 24–17, in the AFC Championship Game, 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 in the 2000s and 2010s that included eight additional Super Bowl appearances and five more Super Bowl titles in Super Bowls XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX, LI, and LIII.

This was also Gruden's final game of his first stint as head coach of the Raiders, as he was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before the following season. The Raiders went to the Super Bowl the next year, but were beaten by Gruden and the Buccaneers, 48–21. The Raiders did not make the playoffs again until 2016. In 2018, Gruden returned to coach the Raiders after a 9-year stint as a television analyst. Gruden made a thinly-veiled reference to the Tuck Rule game in his introductory press conference upon his return to the Raiders, when he turned to former Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson and said "Brady fumbled that ball".[13]

Up to his retirement at the end of the 2018 season, Coleman officiated 265 more NFL games, including 21 more involving the Patriots, but none involving the Raiders.[14] On December 30, 2018, Coleman officiated his last game -- the New York Jets at the New England Patriots (won by the Patriots 38-3) -- and the Patriots saluted Coleman for his 30 years of service (much to the enmity of everyone else).

Starting lineups

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


  • 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


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 29, 2014. Retrieved April 29, 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  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". Retrieved November 27, 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".
  8. ^ "New York Jets  at  New England Patriots - September 23rd, 2001 -".
  9. ^ YouTube.
  10. ^ Weinreb, Michael. "Holy Tuck: An oral history of the Raiders-Patriots Tuck Rule Game, which 15 years ago forever altered the NFL" The Ringer, Jan 19, 2017.
  11. ^ "NFL votes to get rid of tuck rule". ESPN. ESPN. Retrieved July 30, 2019.
  12. ^ "'Tuck Rule' eliminated by wide margin at NFL Annual Meeting". NFL. Retrieved March 22, 2013.
  13. ^ "10 highlights from Jon Gruden's Raiders news conference, including 'Tom Brady fumbled' Reference".
  14. ^ "Walt Coleman at Pro Football Reference".

External links

This page was last edited on 10 July 2021, at 04:32
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