The Tuck Rule helps Patriots advance
In 2002, the Patriots faced the Oakland Raiders in a divisional playoff game in January in Foxborough. Pats fans will remember the game as the "Snow Bowl", while Raider fans will remember it as the "Tuck Rule Game".
Quarterback Tom Brady was attempting to bring New England within field goal range down 13-10 late in the fourth quarter. Brady dropped back for a pass and was seemingly sacked by cornerback Charles Woodson, and the ball came out of his hand. The Raiders recovered what they believed was a fumble.
However, referee Walt Coleman invoked the "Tuck Rule," which then stated: “NFL Rule 3, Section 21, 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..”
The next play, Brady completed a pass to wide receiver David Patten that put New England within range for kicker Adam Vinatieri to send the game into overtime. Vinatieri then kicked the winning field goal in the extra period.
But the Tuck Rule is now history, as its elimination passed overwhelmingly at the NFL annual meeting in Phoenix in March 2013.