Tuck Rule: What Is It? Here’s What You Should Know Before Sunday

Jonathan Franks - Author

Jan. 16 2015, Updated 1:06 p.m. ET

The “Tuck Rule.”

What the heck does that even mean?

Most devout football fans and critics know exactly what the “Tuck Rule” is. Other people may have never even heard the term used until it made headlines after Ray Lewis used it to mock Tom Brady earlier this week.

Ray’s controversial comments were made during a recent appearance on Stephen A. Smith’s radio show.

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“Honest to God, the first time we created something called a ‘tuck rule’ is the only reason we know — I’m just being honest — the only reason we know who Tom Brady is, because of a tuck rule.”

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When discussing Tom Brady and the “Tuck Rule,” Ray Lewis was referring to the game-changing call made by the referee during the 2001 AFC divisional playoff game between the New England Patriots and the Oakland Raiders.

What has now become known as the “Tuck Rule” game was played on January 19, 2002. It was the final game played at the Patriots’ former home venue, Foxboro Stadium.

Tom Brady got sacked by Raiders’ cornerback Charles Woodson. The debatable part of the play was that the sack seemed to end with Brady fumbling the ball, which was then recovered by Raiders’ linebacker Greg Biekert. If the fumble would have been ruled acceptable, it has been argued that the Raiders would have walked away with a victory.

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However, officials that reviewed the questionable play did not allow that to happen. After reviewing the play, it was determined that Brady’s arm moved forward with the ball when he was sacked — making it more of an incomplete pass than a fumble.

The fumble was overturned. The ball was given back to the Patriots, who were then able to get in a great position for a field goal to tie the game with close to a minute left in regulation. In addition to winning the game in overtime, the New England Patriots made it to the Big Game and won Super Bowl XXXVI.

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More than a decade later, Ray Lewis still seems a little sour about the “Tuck Rule” — claiming simply that it does not exist and explaining why that is the case.

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“There’s no such thing as a tuck rule. If the ball is in your hand and I knock it out your hand, whether it’s going backwards, forwards, lateral, sideways — however it’s coming out, that’s a freakin’ fumble. But guess what we created? We created a freakin’ tuck rule… Man, there are certain rules that should not be allowed to be in this game of football.”

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Will the “Tuck Rule” play a factor in Sunday’s upcoming playoff games, or more importantly, the Super Bowl? No, because it was abolished in March of 2013 through a 29-1 vote of current NFL teams.

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However, with so much pressure riding on the final playoff games of the current post-season, do you think that the officials will have to make a controversial game-changing call?

[Image Credit: CBS Sports]


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