The venue of Walt Coleman's final regular-season as an NFL referee was perfect.
Coleman, who's reportedly retiring after this season, was the referee in Sunday's Week 17 matchup between the New England Patriots and New York Jets at Gillette Stadium.
The league's longest-tenured active ref is best remembered as the referee in the famous 2001 Divisional Round playoff game where the Patriots beat the Oakland Raiders in the snow at the old Foxboro Stadium with the help of the "tuck rule."
Brady fumbled the ball in the second half and the Raiders recovered, likely ending New England's chances of making a comeback. The play was challenged, and Coleman reversed the call, noting Brady's arm was going forward, therefore making it an incomplete pass.
Brady took the time to find Coleman after Sunday's game and shake his hand.
Tom Brady and Walt Coleman (the referee during the "tuck rule" game) embraced after what could be the referee's final game. Also Jets players paying their respect to the 🐐 pic.twitter.com/yvJ7izQwLe— The Camera Guys (@NBCSCameraGuys) December 30, 2018
Patriots owner Robert Kraft also paid Coleman a visit.
Looks like Robert Kraft presented a game ball to Walt Coleman, who is retiring. Just walked into official’s room with a ball and a camera. Came out empty handed.— Tom Leyden (@TomLeyden) December 30, 2018
It's interesting to wonder how the Patriots' dynasty would've unfolded -- it might not have happened at all -- if Coleman didn't make the ruling he did on that play. To his credit, he made the correct call as the rule was written.
Walt Coleman is officiating the final regular season game of his career, fittingly in New England. Coleman never called another #Raiders game after the Tuck Rule in January 2002— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) December 30, 2018
The Patriots beat the Jets 38-3 on Sunday to secure a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs and at least the No. 2 seed.
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