AFC Divisional Playoff - "The Tuck Rule"
A New England snowstorm on the evening of January 19, 2002 provided the dramatic setting for one of the most controversial referee’s decisions in NFL history. The Patriots, led by their coach Bill Belichick and their second-year quarterback, Tom Brady, were playing the Raiders in the AFC Divisional playoff game at Foxboro Stadium. A blizzard made it difficult for both teams to muster much offense, and after three quarters, Oakland led, 13-3. Brady rushed for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to make it 13-10, and then with just under two minutes left, New England – without any timeouts – had the ball at Oakland’s 42. When Brady was sacked by Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson and fumbled the ball, it bounced around on the snowy field and was recovered by Oakland. The Raiders were headed for the AFC Championship. Or were they? After a replay review, referee Walt Coleman – citing the obscure “Tuck Rule” – concluded that because Brady’s arm had been moving forward before he pulled the ball back to his body, the pass was incomplete. Soon after the call was overturned, with 32 seconds left, Adam Vinatieri kicked a 45-yard field goal to force overtime. With 6:31 left in OT, Vinatieri kicked a 23-yard field goal and the Patriots won, 16-13. They beat the Steelers the following week and then defeated St. Louis to win their first of six Super Bowls. The Tuck Rule was eliminated in 2013.