On this very day in 2002, the Patriots dynasty was born. The AFC divisional playoff game between the Oakland Raiders and the New England Patriots became the most famous divisional round playoff game in history, when the referees overturned a fumble call due to a little known rule, the tuck rule. Also, to Patriots fans, the game will be known as the “Snow Bowl”. The famously heavy snow fall, which covered the field making it near impossible for one of the greatest kickers of all-time, Adam Vinatieri, to make the two of the greatest kicks in NFL history. As history shows, he nailed them.
There was 1:50 left in the game, the Patriots were down by three points with the ball and were putting together a game-winning drive. The Patriots were just out of field goal range and needed a couple more plays to set up the kick to tie the game. Tom Brady dropped back for a pass, he was having trouble finding an open receiver, so he pump-faked a pass. What happened next would change history.
He was hit from behind by legendary cornerback Charles Woodson. The ball game out and was recovered by Raiders linebacker Greg Biekert, and the game seemed to be over at that moment. With the snow element and the big hit by a great player, it was fair to assume it was a fumble leaving no blame on Brady. Then the referees went to the booth to review it. The replay started to come up, and Patriots fans could see a crack of daylight in the darkness. Over and over we watched the replay screaming that he was passing the ball, and his arm was still moving forward when he dropped it. I cannot speak for Raiders fans, being a Pats fan, but I imagine they were screaming for a fumble at the same time.
The referee came back leaving two football fan bases on opposite coasts on the edge of their seat in silence awaiting the call. He announced that Brady’s arm was still moving forward, which at that time in the rules stated that the correct call was an incomplete pass. The fumble call on the field was overturned to an incomplete pass, giving the ball back to the Patriots. Life was given to Patriots fans, and it was taken away from the Raiders, who seemed to have the game in hand. Of course the rest is history, Brady got them into field goal range, and Vinatieri hit it to send it into overtime. In overtime, the Patriots drove down field, and Vinatieri hit another crazy field goal to win the game and propel the Patriots into greatness.
It was one of the greatest and most famous NFL games of all-time and was the start to the greatest run in sports in the modern era.
The Patriots, of course, went on to beat the Rams in the Super Bowl to win their first in team history. The team has now won three since, making them one of the best dynasties in sports history and currently the model franchise in professional sports. Tom Brady has since become not only the greatest quarterback in NFL history, or the greatest NFL player in history, but the man every man wishes they could be, and what every woman wishes their man was.
Tom Brady and the Patriots are in yet another AFC championship on Sunday and are looking to make it to another Super Bowl and dominate the world as usual. It all started with that snowy game at Gillette Stadium as the snow blower made the path for Brady, Belichick, Vinatieri, and the Patriots into the stratosphere of sports icons and greatness.