What is the tuck rule in the NFL?

Minnesota Vikings v Chicago Bears
What is the tuck rule in the NFL? League's rules explored

January 19, 2002, will forever be engraved in the mind of current NFL head coach Jon Gruden. The New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders met in the 2001 AFC divisional round playoffs.

The Oakland Raiders were on their way to the AFC Championship Game after Charles Woodson sacked Brady and his arm came forward into his body, causing a fumble. Raiders linebacker Greg Biekert recovered the fumble, but was it a fumble?

According to NFL Rule 3, Section 22, Article 2, Note 2, it is 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. If the player has tucked the ball into his body and then loses possession, it is a fumble.

A rule that was never spoken of became one of the most significant topics in professional football because of one play. Unfortunately, we cannot go back in time and change the ruling on the field, but it doesn't mean fans will forget the play.

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With all that being said, let's take a look at how the NFL "Tuck Rule" changed the outcome of the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots playoff game.


How did the NFL tuck rule change the outcome of the Raiders vs. Patriots playoff game?

When the play happened, the Oakland Raiders were leading the New England Patriots 13-10. After the ruling on the field was reversed, New England drove down the field and tied the game on a 45-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri. Vinatieri's field goal sent the game into overtime.

In overtime, Tom Brady completed eight consecutive passes that set up a game-winning field goal. Vinatieri nailed the game-winning field goal that sent the New England Patriots to the NFL AFC Championship Game. One play started the dynasty that Tom Brady and Bill Belichick built in New England.

New England went on to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL AFC Championship Game. The Patriots were heading to the Super Bowl to meet the St. Louis Rams. The Rams were known at the time as the greatest show on turf, but Brady and the Patriots defeated the Rams 20-17.

It all comes back to that one play. That one NFL rule that was brought to light. The Tuck Rule has changed the careers of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick forever.

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Edited by Alex Turk
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