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Tuck rule redux? Close call on loose ball benefits Tom Brady vs. Rams

Jason Owens
·2-min read

Raiders fans, avert your eyes.

Tom Brady was the beneficiary of a close call on Monday that brought up memories of the infamous 2002 tuck rule game that propelled the New England Patriots past the Oakland Raiders into the AFC championship game.

While the NFL rescinded the tuck rule in 2013, Brady once again got the benefit of the doubt on a similar play against the Los Angeles Rams in a game the Bucs would eventually lose, 27-24.

Monday’s play occurred late in the third quarter with the Rams leading 24-17. Brady took a third-and-15 snap with the Bucs backed up to their own end zone. Defensive lineman Morgan Fox got pressure on Brady from behind as Brady cocked his arm back to pass, and the ball fell to the ground.

Whistles blew almost immediately signaling an incomplete pass.

But was it? Here’s the play in slow motion.

Did officials get it right?

Rams head coach Sean McVay challenged the ruling, which officials upheld upon review. It was a close call for sure. Brady is required to have the ball in his hand when his hand moves forward for that to be a pass. Had it been ruled a fumble on the field, it would have been tough to overturn.

Officials ensured that anything that happened after the ball dropped became moot with their quick whistle on the play. It’s hard to believe that any referee in real time could have genuinely felt confident that that wasn’t a fumble.

But somebody did. And the Bucs avoided a costly potential turnover.

TAMPA, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 23: Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks to throw a pass against the Los Angeles Rams during the second quarter in the game at Raymond James Stadium on November 23, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Tom Brady was the beneficiary of a quick whistle and a close call vs. the Rams. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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