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Biggest 180s: 'Tuck rule' gives Patriots new life, helps launch dynasty

Krystle Boyajian
September 03, 2018 - 9:30 am
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The Patriots’ final game at Foxboro Stadium turned out to be a crazy one, and one that helped launch the Patriots dynasty thanks in part to a 180-degree turn that took place in the fourth quarter.

With snow swirling and piling up on the field, the Patriots’ divisional round game against the Raiders was a low-scoring affair that saw Oakland take a 7-0 lead into halftime. The Raiders built their lead to 13-3 heading into the fourth, forcing the Patriots to try to mount a late comeback in a snow storm.

They took the first step with just under eight minutes to go when Tom Brady capped off a four-plus-minute drive with a six-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 13-10. The Raiders and Patriots then exchanged punts before Brady and company got one last shot with 2:06 remaining.  

On the third play of the drive, Brady was sacked by Charles Woodson, fumbled the ball, and the Raiders recovered. Game over.

But wait a second. In a 180-degree turn that many Raiders fans and players still haven’t gotten over, the play was reviewed and the call was changed to an incomplete pass due to the little-known “tuck rule,” which states that if the quarterback’s arm is moving forward, even if he is attempting to tuck the ball rather than throw it, it is an incomplete pass and not a fumble.

The Patriots went on to tie the game with an incredible 45-yard field goal through the snow from Adam Vinatieri, and then won it in overtime on a slightly easier 23-yard field goal. They then beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh in the AFC championship game before upsetting the heavily-favored Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI to capture the franchise’s first Super Bowl.

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