Jan. 19, 2002 is a date that will always live in infamy for Raiders coach Jon Gruden.
Gruden was asked about the “Tuck Rule” before the Raiders played the Patriots at Gillette Stadium on Sept. 27, 2020.
“Thanks for bringing that up,” Gruden told ESPN.com. “He did fumble that damn ball.”
Gruden is talking about Tom Brady, of course, and the call that changed the 2001 AFC divisional playoff matchup between the then-Oakland Raiders and the Patriots. That moment will almost certainly be rehashed one more time when the Raiders and Buccaneers meet on “Sunday Night Football” in Week 7.
Gruden and Brady are forever linked by that moment.
What is the ‘Tuck Rule?’
The Patriots trailed the Raiders 13-10 in the fourth quarter of an AFC Divisional Playoff game on Jan. 19, 2002, when Brady dropped back to pass on a third down.
Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson tackled Brady as his arm came forward into his body, and Oakland linebacker Greg Biekert recovered the fumble. Oakland appeared to be headed to the AFC championship game, but Gruden knew was something was up.
From “The Tuck Rule: The Call that Started a Dynasty and Changed the NFL Forever”
“I saw their sidelines. Charlie Weis, (Bill) Belichick, all of them. Brady,” Gruden said. “They knew it was a fumble. We all knew it was a fumble. Until, um, wait a minute, there’s a conversation.”
According to NFL Rule 3, Section 33, Article 2, Note 2, Brady did not fumble the ball.
“I’m hearing language I’ve never heard, and I’ve been in football my entire life,” Gruden said on the NFL Films documentary.
How did the ‘Tuck Rule’ affect playoff game?
The Patriots tied the game in regulation on a 45-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri. Brady hit 8 of 8 passes in overtime to set up Vinatieri’s game-winning field goal. The Patriots won 16-13.
How did ‘Tuck Rule’ affect Tom Brady?
The call helped launch the Patriots’ dynasty. New England defeated the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl 36 that season, and Belichick and Brady teamed up to lead the Patriots to six Super Bowl championships and nine Super Bowl appearances from 2001-29.
It was a two-decade run that vaulted Brady into the greatest-ever conversations. Brady ranks second in NFL history in passing yards (76,112) and passing TDs (555) heading into the Week 7 matchup with the Raiders.
How did ‘Tuck Rule’ affect Jon Gruden?
Gruden was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the offseason following the “Tuck Rule” game. He had a 38-26 record in his first stint with the Raiders, but he never reached the Super Bowl in Oakland.
Gruden returned to Oakland in 2018, and he is 14-23 in his second stint with the franchise. The Raiders moved to Las Vegas this season and bring a 3-2 record into Sunday’s game.
Where does Tampa Bay fit in all this?
Gruden did lead Tampa Bay to a victory in Super Bowl 37 against the Raiders. That was his first season after the “Tuck Rule” game, and he spent seven seasons with the Buccaneers. Gruden compiled a 57-55 record in that stretch.
Brady signed with Tampa Bay this offseason and is trying to get the franchise back in the postseason for the first time since 2007. That was Gruden’s next-to-last season with the team.
Tampa Bay is 4-2 this season and coming off a convincing 38-10 victory against the Green Bay Packers.
Brady vs. Gruden since ‘Tuck Rule’
The Patriots faced Gruden one time when he was the coach of the Buccaneers. New England won 28-0 on Dec. 17, 2005.
Brady finished 20 of 31 for 258 yards and three TDs in that victory.
Will Gruden ever let it go?
It’s safe to say the “Tuck Rule” has followed Gruden throughout his career, and he has never shied away from criticizing it.
“I think the ‘Tuck Rule’ is a crock of s—, personally.” — Gruden said on “NFL Films Presents” with Steve Sabol.
The NFL took out the “Tuck Rule” in 2013, but Gruden would regularly reference the incident during his time as a commentator on Monday Night Football. Those feelings are sure to return on Sunday Night Football.
Will Gruden finally get his revenge on Brady?
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