How 10 years fly by – just ask Charles Woodson.
It was 10 years ago today that he hit Tom Brady on a snow-covered field in Foxboro Stadium, causing the New England Patriot quarterback to fumble the football. What ensued was the recovery of the ball by Woodson’s teammate, Greg Biekert, which seemingly put the Oakland Raiders in a position to run out the clock and give them a win in the playoff game.
That was before the game’s referee, Walt Coleman, went under the instant replay hood and came back to overturn the decision on the field utilizing a little known rule, the tuck rule, to give the ball back to the Patriots. New England went on to tie the score on a field goal by Adam Vinatieri and later won the game in overtime with another kick by Vinatieri.
How many times the rule has been used since then couldn’t be counted but it’s become one of the most well-known, and most misunderstood rules in the books.
Since that day, Woodson has gone on to win a world championship with the 2010 Green Bay Packers and that particular day is a distant memory for him.
Here is how the rule reads:
NFL Rule 3, Section 22, 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.
According to Wikipedia, the rule isn’t appreciated by all. Here’s an excerpt:
While the NFL has defended the call, not everybody has agreed. Bruce Allen, who ran the front office for the Raiders at the time of the game, still believes it was a fumble. “The rule itself doesn’t bother me,” he said. “But the way the rule is written, it was a fumble.” Nevertheless, when the NFL’s Competition Committee re-examined the rule after the 2001-2002 season, they made no changes to the rule; Mike Pereira, the former director of officiating of the NFL, notes that attempts have been made to revise the rule, but such revisions have always proven to be more difficult to enforce than the current rule.
In honor of that particular day, here is a video from the day.