Remember the ‘Tuck Rule Game?’ Something similar nearly occurred in the Cincinnati Bengals’ 22-18 win over the New England Patriots in Week 16.
For a refresher, the tuck rule is a thing because of what transpired in the 2002 Divisional Round game between the Patriots and then-Oakland Raiders.
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.
Throwback to the 'Tuck Rule' game!— NFL UK (@NFLUK) December 15, 2022
Pats and Raiders meet again Sunday! pic.twitter.com/tTrzz4OC7m
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...
OMG MAC JONES. JAKOBI MEYERS. @Patriots— NFL (@NFL) December 24, 2022
: #CINvsNE on CBS
: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/12iaSiFKaP pic.twitter.com/4dpAjOO4Rx
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.
Chaos in NE! The @Bengals recover the football in the redzone with less than a minute left to play— NFL (@NFL) December 24, 2022
: #CINvsNE on CBS
: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/12iaSiXlzp pic.twitter.com/tQO9tkgSSx
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