Patriots Reflect on ‘Snow Bowl’ During 10-Year Anniversary of Tuck Rule Game

Patriots Reflect on 'Snow Bowl' During 10-Year Anniversary of Tuck Rule GameFOXBORO, Mass. — Ten years ago Thursday, Patriots running back Kevin Faulk played in one of the most memorable games in franchise history.

What does he remember most about it?

"It was snowing," Faulk said with a big laugh.

That, in a phrase, is the understatement of the century. Thursday marks the 10-year anniversary of the "Snow Bowl," which is also known as the "Tuck Rule Game." Whatever it's called, the game served as one of the great turning points for the franchise.

The Patriots knocked off the Raiders, 16-13, in overtime of the divisional round of the playoffs in the final game ever played at Foxboro Stadium. It all took place amid a driving snowstorm that made life difficult for New England residents and football players alike. And the weather element only added to the lore of the dramatic game.

"It was a very interesting game in the aspect of [the snow]," Faulk said. "But the game was still a great game, an intense game."

The Raiders took a 13-3 lead into the fourth quarter before the Patriots tapped into some of the magic that had propelled them through the 2001 season. Quarterback Tom Brady, who was starting his 15th game as a pro, orchestrated a touchdown drive that he capped off with a six-yard scoring scamper, followed by a spike and a face plant in the end zone.

"I remember that because that was a specific play that I was one of the primary targets on," former Patriots tight end Jermaine Wiggins said. "He kind of looked at me and pump-faked it, and the guy jumped the route a little bit, and [Brady] ran up in there and tried to spike it. Obviously, he did his best impression of [Rob] Gronkowski when he tried to spike the ball as hard as he could, but he ended up taking a little tumble on that."

That helped set up the infamous "tuck rule" play. The Patriots got the ball back on their own 46-yard line with no timeouts and 2:06 remaining in the fourth quarter. And what's lost in that, Troy Brown set them up with a terrific punt return, but he fumbled the ball, which was recovered by special teams ace Larry Izzo to keep hope alive.

On the third play of the drive, with 1:43 to play, cornerback Charles Woodson — Brady's teammate at Michigan — blitzed free on the front side and forced the quarterback to fumble. Linebacker Greg Biekert recovered the ball and then punted it toward the Oakland sideline in celebration.

When the play went to review, and CBS color analyst Phil Simms got a better angle of Brady's arm on the replay, Simms said on the broadcast, "The exact term, I can't think of," while breaking down the tuck rule. Now, it's such a household term that people across New England will shout "tuck rule" at their televisions, even while watching a game that has no bearing on the Patriots. Of course, they can thank referee Walt Coleman for having a deep knowledge of the rulebook.

Later in the drive, Adam Vinatieri kicked a game-tying, 45-yard field goal that might have never traveled more than 15 feet off the ground. The Raiders proceeded to take a knee to send the game into overtime, where the Patriots got the first and only possession.

Wiggins had a huge role in the game, catching 10 passes for 68 yards, including three receptions in overtime, one of which was good for a third-down conversion.

"As a kid growing up, I was a Patriots fan," said Wiggins, an East Boston native. "I remember '86. I remember '96. And then to be part of a playoff game for the Patriots, I had a lot of family and friends that were there, and the magnitude of the game itself, it was storybook."

The everlasting images are almost countless, and there were some big plays in overtime that vaulted the Patriots toward Vinatieri's 23-yard field goal. Wide receiver David Patten, who had eight receptions for 107 yards, made a sliding play to catch a fourth-down pass deep in Oakland territory. Three plays after that, running back Antowain Smith ripped off eight of his 65 rushing yards to convert on third down and get the ball inside the 10-yard line.

Three plays later, Vinatieri closed Foxboro Stadium with a game-winning kick that served as foreshadowing for the franchise that was at the dawn of a dynastic run.

"It's kind of hard to pull out one particular thing that stands out the most," Brown said. "So many great things … it's hard to believe it's been 10 years, that's for sure."

Have a question for Jeff Howe? Send it to him via Twitter at @jeffphowe or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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