With a New England victory, Brady will go down in history among the best ever NFL quarterbacks.
He'll be mentioned along with Johnny Unites, Bart Starr, Dan Marino, Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana.
A former Michigan Wolverine, Brady failed to break into the lineup until his junior season. He made the most of it by winning a pair of bowl games and splitting with Ohio State.
Luck was on Brady's Side
Brady joined the Patriots for the 2000 season as a sixth-round draft choice. A pair of fortunate incidents during the 2001 season catapulted him toward an eventually place in the NFL Hall of Fame.
In New England's second outing, starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe was injured and Brady took over. He quickly made a name for himself, finishing the regular season with six straight victories.
Brady received his second dose of good fortune late in the divisional championship game with Oakland. Playing in a blinding New England snowstorm, Oakland surprisingly led 13-10 in the final minutes.
As he's done so often since, Brady was working one final drive. With the ball on Oakland's 41 yard line and 1:50 showing on the clock, Brady dropped back to pass. Unfortunately, he didn't see his former college teammate coming on a corner blitz.
Charles Woodson, a Heisman Trophy winner for the Wolverines in 1997, hit Brady from the blind side and caused what appeared to be a game clinching fumble.The Raiders recovered, and it was just a matter of running out the clock, or so they thought.
The replay officials, shockingly overturned the call, citing a seldom-used "Tuck Rule" which reads:
The Tuck Rule
"If the quarterback brings his arm forward in a passing motion, but then changes his mind and tries to keep hold of the football rather than making a pass. In this situation, if the quarterback loses the ball while stopping his passing motion or bringing the ball back to his body, it is still considered a forward pass."
So Brady's second huge break of the 2001 season sent the Patriots on their way to a Super Bowl victory over the St. Louis Rams.
Woodson, who's played eight seasons with Oakland and six with Green Bay, finally won a Super Bowl last year. He's one of the few players who've won a Heisman Trophy, an NCAA championship and a Super Bowl. The others were Marcus Allen, Tony Dorsett and Reggie Bush.
It's now 10 years later but Woodson recalls the ill-fated play at New England.
"I've had that flashback more times than I would like. I catch that game on the classic football channel sometimes," Woodson told NESN. "That’s a bad memory for me, but it is what it is."
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