It was ruled an incomplete pass on the field, but according to former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady the famous “Tuck Rule” play versus the Oakland Raiders might have been a fumble after all.
Sharing a video on social media, Brady claimed as much: “The Tuck Rule Game against the Raiders... it might have been a fumble.”
The play in question happened during the 2001 divisional round playoff game between the Patriots and Raiders in snowy Foxboro Stadium.
Late in the game, with New England needing to score a field goal to tie the game and keep its hopes alive, Brady’s former Michigan teammate Charles Woodson hit him from his blindside. Brady lost the football and the ensuing scramble resulted in Oakland’s Greg Biekert falling on it to secure his team’s victory.
NFL Rule 3, Section 22, Article 2, Note 2 had different ideas, though. Per that rule “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.”
And so, referee Walt Coleman reviewed the play. After three minutes, he came out from under the hood to announce his decision.
“After reviewing the play, the quarterback’s arm was going forward. It is an incomplete pass, 2nd-and-10 at the 42.”
After the Tuck Rule allowed the Patriots to keep the ball with under two minutes left on the clock, they marched down the field to tie the game on an improbable Adam Vinatieri field goal from 45 yards out.
The contest was headed to overtime, where another Vinatieri field goal proved to be the difference. Two weeks later, the Patriots and Brady won their first Super Bowl — thanks in large part due Walt Coleman applying NFL Rule 3, Section 22, Article 2, Note 2.