Trailing 13-10 late in the fourth quarter, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was sacked by defensive back Charles Woodson, causing Brady to fumble the ball away to the Raiders.
Game over, or so it seemed…
The play was reviewed, and referee Walt Coleman cited the tuck rule to determine the play was an incomplete pass, letting the Patriots keep possession of the ball. They would go on to tie the game in regulation and win it in overtime en route to their first of six Super Bowl wins under Brady.
Like the famed Immaculate Reception being celebrated this week, it remains one of the biggest ‘what if’ plays in NFL history.
Similar to this play, the Patriots were trailing late in the fourth quarter of their Week 16 game vs. the Bengals, and what appeared to be a strip sack by safety Vonn Bell led to linebacker Germaine Pratt picking up the ball and running into the end zone for a defensive touchdown.
However, the play was ruled to be an incomplete pass, despite seemingly being a fumble.
Now, there is a difference between these two plays in that Jones was actually trying to throw a forward pass but appeared to fumble the ball forward, whereas Brady was attempting to gather the ball after a pump fake and lost it.
Brady’s tuck led to the pass being ruled incomplete, while Jones was ruled to have grounded the ball, so the Bengals did at least force a major loss of yards.
We can’t forget to mention this was a regular-season game, though it did have major playoff implications, as the Patriots are now highly unlikely to make the playoffs, while the Bengals are still in the hunt for the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC playoffs.
Also, the Bengals were up 22-12 when said play occurred, whereas the Raiders were only up three.
Of course, the ensuing 3rd-and-29 play led to this…
While inexcusable to allow, it’s a play the Bengals defense should have never had to deal with. At worst, they should have been ruled to have recovered what was a fumble by Jones on the previous play.
The real irony in all of this is that in this very year of 2022, Tom Brady admitted that he “might” have fumbled the ball in said ‘Tuck Rule Game.’
Alas, the Raiders are still left to wonder what if, a nightmare the Bengals thankfully won’t have to endure from this day.
Follow our Twitter page and ‘like’ our Facebook page for more Cincinnati Bengals news, views and other fun stuff. Check out our podcasts on Spotify, iHeart Radio, our YouTube channel, and as always, on iTunes. And of course, Who Dey!!!