What If? No. 2: What If Tom Brady's "Tuck Rule" Was Never Called?

Mike DiPietroCorrespondent IJanuary 22, 2009

"What If?" deals with certain moments in sports history that I will examine, make up a different outcome to that moment, and predict the effects it will have on the future of sports history.

For previous articles, visit my profile and look under What If?.

First, watch this video from 3:20 onwards to fully understand what this play was, and what it led to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZcOzQXf6Hk&feature=related

Also, for an explanation of the rule, click this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuck_rule

The Tuck Rule is by far one of the most controversial rules in the NFL, if not in all of sports. The way the referees rule the play can sometimes be too indecisive, and no one can tell whether or not the quarterback was going to either throw the ball away, pump-fake it, or try to "tuck" it inside.

There are too many factors to look at when discussing the "Tuck Rule," so it can definitely be disputed, whether or not the call from the referee (or the booth) was correct.

Anyways, enough about that. Back to the game.

What if the ball was called a fumble in this particular divisional playoff game? And not under the Tuck Rule?

Well, if it was, then the Raiders hold onto the ball for the rest of the game and win in an ugly victory, 13-10.

What happens after that?

The Oakland Raiders advance to the AFC Championship game against the Steelers, but lose in a blowout. However, the Raiders will not slip into mediocrity, as they are in the present day.

They still end up going to the Super Bowl in 2002, and since they have all of their key players back from the year before (including coach Jon Gruden), they end up crushing the Eagles (since the Bucs wouldn't make it that far like they did with Gruden) 44-17, and win Super Bowl XXXVII.

From that point on, the Raiders are one of the most dominant teams in the NFL. They have won six consecutive AFC West divisional crowns, including two other Super Bowl trips with quarterback Rich Gannon (yes, he is still playing) at the helms.

But both end up in losses. Overall, the Raiders are a successful, winning franchise that keeps on growing into an AFC dynasty.

Meanwhile, over on the Patriots side, things are not as bad as they seem.

Tom Brady, after proving himself to the Patriots in 2001, gets the full time starting job still. The Pats would be a winning team throughout the decade, going as low as 8-8 to as high as 12-4. No, there isn't a perfect season. And no, there aren't any Super Bowl Championships for the Patriots, just playoff losses.

Brady is looked upon as a QB who can't win the big games, coach Bill Belichick ends up getting released by New England in 2007 and ends up coaching the Jets like he should have, before he ditched them at the last second.

Brady eventually gets to the Super Bowl in his 15th and final year, but the Patriots lose by the same play that scarred Tom Brady's career from the start.

A fumble in the 4th quarter.

Oh, and what about the "Tuck Rule?"

That is eventually erased by the NFL, and has never been used, in any play, in any game, ever again.

If you have any ideas for my What If? articles, please comment, and I'll consider any ideas you have. Thanks!