All you've got to do to get a Boston sports fan riled up is say two simple words: "tuck rule." Almost 11 years ago, in the waning seconds of a playoff game against the Raiders, a young Patriots quarterback by the name of Tom Brady got swarmed by Charles Woodson and surrendered what everybody outside the greater Boston area knew was a fumble. End of season, right? Not so fast.
The refs in the Oakland-New England game called the play an incomplete pass because of the "tuck rule," which held that if the quarterback is bringing the ball back to his body after a reconsidering a pass and subsequently loses possession of it, it's an incomplete pass. Yeah, all these years later, it still doesn't make any sense. Anyway, within weeks, New England had won its first Super Bowl and kicked off a dynasty that still has legs to this day.
The term "tuck rule" is thus a shorthand for any instance in which a Boston sports team gets an apparent unfair advantage. Indeed, many anti-Bostonites gleefully contended that Saturday night's bizarre World Series Game 3 events, which broke against Boston, ought to serve as some kind of karmic payback for the tuck rule.
All of which is to say that because of its unclear designation and inconsistent application, the tuck rule is, as of this season, no more. Which is a shame, because Buffalo's Thad Lewis really could have used it on Sunday when the Saints defense swarmed him. Lewis very clearly pulled the ball back to his body but fumbled away the ball. New Orleans recovered, and shortly afterward scored the first touchdown of the game. In the end, it didn't much matter, as New Orleans more than doubled up Buffalo 35-17, but still.
Here, for your review, is the Brady Tuck Rule game. The actual play starts at about the two-minute mark. Watching it again, you can see why nobody not wearing a Pats jersey thinks this was an incomplete pass:
Sorry, Thad. Wrong team, wrong time.