Tom Brady Admits He Fumbled in 'Tuck Rule' Game

For roughly 17 years, fans of the Oakland Raiders have been frustrated with the NFL over a ruling in a 2001 Divisional Round game against the New England Patriots. The "Tuck Rule" prevented a turnover by fumble and gave Tom Brady another opportunity to lead his team to victory. Fast-forward to 2019, and Peyton Manning just found out the truth about this game from Brady himself.

In a preview for an upcoming episode of the ESPN+ series, Peyton's Places, Brady and Manning are shown attempting golf trick shots while discussing moments from their storied rivalry. Interestingly enough, Manning actually turns the conversation to the game in which Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson blitzed Brady and forced what he thought to be the game-clinching fumble.

"The Tuck Rule game, was it a fumble?" Manning asked. Brady responded by saying that it was, in fact, a fumble and that he thought the game was over.

"Oh, yeah," Brady said. "I thought [the] game's over. For the record, I was pulling it [the ball] down."

At the time, the biggest issue was that the referees said that Brady was attempting to throw the ball when it hit the ground. The play was ruled as an incomplete pass instead of a turnover, which gave New England possession once again. As Paul Gutierrez of ESPN explained in January 2018, the rulebook specifically discusses a play in which a quarterback attempts to pull the ball back down but fumbles in the process. This is the "Tuck Rule."

From the NFL's rulebook: Rule 3, Section 22, Article 2, Note 2: It is a forward pass if: When a Team A player is holding the ball to pass it forward, any intentional forward movement of his hand starts a forward pass, even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body.

The Patriots drove into field-goal range and gave Adam Vinatieri an opportunity to kick a 45-yard field goal in the driving snow. This knotted up the score at 13 all with only 27 seconds remaining.

Now, the Raiders had an opportunity to drive down the field with two timeouts and kick the game-winning field goal. Instead, former – and current – Raiders head coach Jon Gruden had quarterback Rich Gannon kneel and head to overtime.

Ultimately, Brady and the Patriots got the ball first, drove down the field, and set up Vinatieri for the game-winning field goal. Weeks later, the future six-time champion would be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy for the very first time.


This play has haunted the Raiders for nearly two decades, and now Brady has admitted that he truly did fumble. Ultimately, it doesn't matter, but maybe Raider Nation can find some semblance of peace. Although they will likely just continue to dislike Brady.

(Photo Credit: Jim Rogash/Getty)