Tom Brady's first game was a success—and a dynasty was born—thanks to an obscure rule that will forever haunt Raiders fans.
Jan. 19, 2002: Raiders vs. Patriots in an AFC divisional showdown. Brady’s first playoff game. A home field white with snow. Down 13–10 with 1:50 left on clock and the Patriots at the Raiders’ 42-yard line, Brady steps back to pass, pump-fakes, and then tucks the ball instead. Concurrently, Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson blitzed and knocked the ball out to be recovered by linebacker Greg Biekert. Season over for New England.
The announcers, fans and players assumed it was a fumble. But after further review (because it was under two minutes) referee Walt Coleman announced that the call was being reversed because “The quarterback’s arm was coming forward.” Coleman meant to reference Rule 3, Section 21, Article 2 of the NFL rule book which allows “any intentional forward movement of [the thrower's] arm starts a forward pass, even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body.”
An Adam Vinietieri 43-yard field goal tied it in regulation, and he kicked another in overtime. This was the last game at the old Foxboro stadium. Robert Kraft called it the best.