Patriots

Patriots

How fitting that a snowstorm is expected to hit New England on Saturday night.

A similar snowstorm descended on Foxboro, Mass., on Jan. 19, 2002, exactly 17 years ago today. And the New England Patriots happened to be playing a football game -- the AFC Divisional Round, to be exact -- against the Oakland Raiders that night at the old Foxboro Stadium.

With 1:49 remaining in that game, a young Tom Brady appeared to commit a costly turnover when Charles Woodson knocked the ball from his grasp. But that's when referee Walt Coleman --who's retiring from NFL officiating after the 2019 Pro Bowl -- saved the day for the Patriots.

Let's roll the tape:

Coleman invoked the infamous (and now defunct) "Tuck Rule," overturning the call to an incomplete pass because Brady's arm was going forward.

Brady made the most of Coleman's gift by driving the Patriots into field goal range, where Adam Vinatieri powered a 45-yard knuckleball through the blizzard to send the game to overtime.

You know the rest: Vinatieri drilled a 23-yard field goal in OT to lift New England to a 16-13 win, which was followed three weeks later by a Super Bowl XXXVI upset of the then-St. Louis Rams.

 

The shockwaves of the "Tuck Rule Game" still are reverberating today: The loss still ticks off Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, and Woodson tweeted about the game last weekend.

As for the Patriots? They've won five Super Bowls since Brady didn't fumble, while he and head coach Bill Belichick still are at the peak of their crafts as they enter their eight consecutive AFC Championship Game on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

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