Throwback Thursday: Tom Brady & the New England Patriots Tuck Their Way Into the Superbowl
Oh – you haven’t heard? There’s been a bit of controversy brewing in the NFL involving their use of replacement referees. This past Monday Night, the controversy reached a breaking point when the substitute officials ruled the final play of the game a Seattle Seahawks’ touchdown instead of a relatively (or completely) apparent Green Bay Packers’ interception. Of course, this altered the outcome of the game – on the final play nonetheless – causing a nationwide backlash from fans and players alike.
So for Throwback Thursday in commemoration of this terrible referee controversy, this isn’t the first case of referees playing an enormous factor in the outcome of a game. After all, the element of human error is what makes the NFL and all other major sporting associations so exciting – except when your team is on the other side of the call. Such was the case for Oakland Raiders fans in 2002 AFC divisional playoffs as the New England Patriots narrowly escaped with a victory – in part due to an incomplete pass. Tom Brady dropped back to pass late in the 4th quarter but was met from behind by linebacker Greg Biekert, who knocked the ball free. If ruled a fumble, it’s extremely likely the Raiders would have walked away victorious. But the fumble was overturned and ruled an incomplete pass due to a controversial rule enacted in 1999 called the “tuck rule.” This gave the Patriots all the momentum they needed as they set kicker Adam Vinatieri up for a game-tying field goal and eventually went on to win in overtime.
If we can learn one thing from this dark moment in Oakland Raiders’ history, it’s that no one is perfect. Give the replacements a break. Even professionals make mistakes.