Expect a Blizzard

A Week 11 meeting with a great rivalry comes on Sunday night in Oakland when the New England Patriots face the Raiders. The forecast will be for a blizzard – because that's all the TV stations and newspapers will be showing and writing about in leading up to the game: the memorable 2001 Divisional Playoff game last January between the teams waged in the middle of a howling New England blizzard. It was a game that made every football fan in America conversant with the "tuck rule."

To reprise: down 13-10 with 1:50 left in the game and the snow pounding down, the Raiders' CHARLES WOODSON barreled in on a corner blitz and hit Patriots quarterback TOM BRADY, whose fumble was recovered by linebacker GREG BIEKERT.  That was it!  Raiders win!

But, the play was challenged by the replay assistant in the booth.  Everything stopped but the snow as referee WALT COLEMAN reviewed the play.  His decision: the Patriots retain possession of the ball because of the "tuck rule" (NFL rule 3, section 21, article 2).  It was not a fumble, ruled Coleman, but an incomplete forward pass because Brady, while in possession, brought his arm forward and was trying to "tuck" the ball back into his body.

Five plays later, ADAM VINATIERI kicks a 45-yard field goal with :32 left to lift the game into overtime.  With 6:35 left in that period, he converts a 23-yarder for the 16-13 victory.  The Patriots, of course, would go on to win Super Bowl XXXVI. 

Now it's a new season, both clubs have had a rocky time of it, but look like they may have turned things around.

"We're 5-4 and we're going to Oakland!" says Brady of his team that started the season with three consecutive wins, lost its next four, and has won its past two, including a wild, 21-point comeback win in Chicago (33-30) last Sunday that came down to a Brady-to-DAVID PATTEN 20-yard TD pass with :21 left.

The Raiders have had a similar season.  They broke out 4-0, lost their next four, and come off an exhilarating 34-10 victory Monday night at Denver.  They are now one game behind 6-3 AFC West leaders Denver and San Diego.

"We've got a long way to go," says Raiders head coach BILL CALLAHAN, "but we're back in the race."


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