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Saturday, May 21, 2022
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Tom Brady thinks he would have been Drew Bledsoe’s backup in 2002 if not for the infamous tuck shop rule


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This is the play that has changed the course of history in the NFL, and especially for Tom Brady. In what was a whirlwind season for Brady in 2001, the then second-year quarterback and backup for an injured Drew Bledsoe took over and helped the New England Patriots to the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory, but it was also largely due to the now infamous “tuck rule.” In his first playoff game, a nail-biter against Oakland Raiders, Brady was hit late in the fourth quarter by future Hall of Fame defensive back Charles Woodson and the ball came loose.

The Raiders would recover with a chance to beat their ticket to the next round and send Brady home with his first taste of post-season disappointment, but it was not to be. The officials, namely NFL referee Walt Coleman, ultimately considered that it was not a mess by Brady at all, but rather that he started a forward move to try a pass – which the game considered dead on an incomplete attempt.

If it were rather considered rubbish, the butterfly effect would probably have sent Brady back to the bank next season.

“I’m probably the backup QB going into 2002,” Brady said in ESPN’s “30 for 30” documentary on the play, via NBC Sport. “I’m not the beginner if we lose that game.”

Legendary kicker Adam Vinatieri went on to kick a match-equal field goal to force overtime, where the Patriots went on to win on a 23-yard kick by Vinatieiri. And with that, the legend of Brady and the Patriots of the 2000s and beyond was introduced. Bledsoe was traded to the Buffalo Bills and the Patriots went on to win six titles with the tandem of Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, a trio completed by owner Robert Kraft – the latter also confessed ESPN how it was the fatal play in January 2002 that really started it where it could have rather ended it before it ever really started.

“It was the catalyst for the beginning of a dynasty.”

Brady finally separated from the Patriots after two decades and a list of NFL honors, and won his seventh and final Lombardi trophy as QB of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But Raiders fans will always remember the play that went away, and the Patriots will always be grateful for the tuck shop rule, something that became the norm in today’s NFL, but everything was except when it was the centerpiece on a Sunday in Foxboro Stadium. little more than 20 years ago.





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