2) 2001 AFC Divisional Playoff: New England 16—Oakland 13 (OT)
You’d expect a 10-point 4th quarter lead in a winter storm to be safe, especially when the team with the lead is stocked with experienced veterans while the losing team is led by a first-year quarterback, a 6th round draft pick who’d never played in the postseason before. But when that QB’s named Tom Brady, those expectations couldn’t be more wrong. Brady hadn’t done anything in the first half, going 6-of-13 for 74 yards. But on the Patriots’ second possession of the 4th quarter, he began his legend, completing 9 passes in a row to drive his team to the Raiders’ six-yard-line. He ran for a TD to finish off the drive. 13-10. Later in the quarter, with less than 3 minutes to go, the Raiders had a 2nd-and-3. If two runs could net a measly 3 yards, they would be able to run out the clock. But this is the Raiders we’re talking about. They failed. They punted, leaving Brady all of two minutes and six seconds to work with. A few plays later, Brady dropped back, pumped faked and found Charles Woodson in his grill. Woodson administered a vicious (illegal) slap to the QB’s head that jarred the ball loose. Fumble! Raider Linebacker Greg Biekert recovers. No flags. The game and Brady’s Cinderella season are done. Or were they? The officials signal the play is being reviewed. Huh? Brady’s arm clearly wasn’t going forward at the time he was hit. No way the officials can overturn the…WHAAAATTTT?! Incomplete pass? Patriots’ ball? Can it be, Raider fans ask? Oh, it be. Credit or blame Rule 3, Section 21, Article 2, Note 2 of the Official Rules of the NFL, or what is now known as “The Tuck Rule”.
I quote: “When a Team A player is holding the ball to pass it forward, any intentional forward movement of his hand starts a forward pass, even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body”.
Brady pump faked, then got hit and lost the ball as he was bringing it back, i.e. attempting to tuck it, towards his body. The Raider players and coaches whined like babies (as you’d expect), but the refs got it right. Undone by the adversity of one correct call going against them, Oakland fell apart, allowing Brady to drive his team down into FG range. Still, a 45-yarder is no gimmee at any time. Now add a snowy field, poor footing and blizzard-like conditions not to mention the pressure of knowng your team's season is over if you miss. You're practically asking your kicker to make the greatest kick in NFL history. Even for a great kicker like Adam Vinatieri that's asking a...It's Good!!! Through the teeth of the storm Vinatieri split the uprights. New England won the overtime coin toss and Brady methodically marched them down the field. Eight passes, eight completions for Brady including a six-yarder to David Patten on 4th-and-4 from the Oakland 28. Vinatieri finshed off the Raiders with a 23-yard game winner. After the game, Woodson said about the Tuck Rule call: "That's (crap). I feel like it was a (crap) call…I feel like it should have been overturned.” Waaahhh. Waaaahhh. The refs made the right call and Woodson was lucky they missed his illegal head slap on Brady. The Pats moved on to win their first ever Super Bowl victory.
The Oakland Raiders' Top 10 Toughest Losses of All-Time:
Tenth Toughest Loss
Ninth Toughest Loss
Eighth Toughest Loss
Seventh Toughest Loss
Sixth Toughest Loss
Fifth Toughest Loss
Fourth Toughest Loss
Third Toughest Loss
Second Toughest Loss