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Filling The Void

Filling the Void: The Tuck Rule

One of the most controversial calls in NFL history.

A Patriots Fan Celebrates by Laurie Shaull is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Filling the Void: The Tuck Rule


Estimated Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Having a hard time with this whole “social distancing” thing? Yeah – us too. Especially when it comes to the lack of sports. So, we here at The Turf thought we’d offer a way to help ease the pain and suffering. While we may not have any of the current sports leagues to watch live, there is PLENTY of archive footage available at our fingertips. We’ve scoured the internet and assembled some of the most iconic, noteworthy and remarkable sporting events we could find. We also found some mundane, run of the mill matches and contests, that seemed banal at first watch. However, at this point, we’ll take anything that resembles sports, right? Each day, we’ll feature one of the contests and provide you a link where you can relive the glory, exhilaration, and thrill from the comfort of your couch.

Snow Day

We’re feeling like we’re caught perpetually in a snow day right now. But on this particular snow day in January 2002, fans from New England packed into Foxborough Stadium for the final time. Visibility was garbage, but this game was huge.

Was it pretty? No, not particularly. Brady worked through his soon-to-be patented screens, but connected with David Patten and Jermaine Wiggins more for more than half of his 32 completions. He threw one pick and no touchdowns, but did run for one. Rich Gannon didn’t even surpass 160 yards. Despite the weather, neither team hit triple digits in rushing yards.

Oakland looked poised to win the game 13-10, until a play that will forever live in infamy. A play that effectively launched a dynasty. The tuck rule.

So what happened?

Ah, the tuck rule. I’ll be honest. This game was 18 years ago and I still don’t particularly understand this rule or the call. It was a rule that was introduced a couple years prior, and I don’t believe (don’t quote me on this) it had ever been called until this moment.

Charles Woodson came in and hit Brady, knocking the ball loose. Oakland recovered. They thought they won the game. The rule on the field was a fumble recovered by the Raiders. Referee Walt Coleman went under the hood.

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.

Coleman came out from the hood, cited Rule 3, Section 22, Article 2, Note 2, and awarded the Patriots the ball. This led the Pats to a game tying field goal before going into overtime for one of the most iconic field goals to be kicked in Patriots history, by Adam Vinatieri. Well, until time was expiring on February 3rd of that same year…

Kevin is an actor, director, playwright, and musician who works in tech and lives in Brooklyn. He is die hard New England sports and an avid Tottenham supporter. His qualifications include scoring 1 point in his elementary school basketball career, 4 years of mixed little league results, and breaking his arm with a skip-it days before pre-season workouts started for Freshman football.

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