- Mike Reiss, ESPN New England Patriots reporter
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— Deep Threat (@DeeepThreat) June 11, 2014
This is one of three nominations for the most memorable play in team history. Over a span of three days we’ll also feature the Snowplow Game of 1982, in which the New England Patriots beat the Dolphins 3-0, and Adam Vinatieri's game-winning 48-yard field goal to beat the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. Please vote for your choice as the Patriots' most memorable play.
Score: Patriots 16, Raiders 13 (OT)
Date: Jan. 19, 2002 Site: Foxboro Stadium
It might have been the toughest, most clutch field goal in the history of the NFL -- a line-drive 45-yarder through the snow in the final game played at Foxboro Stadium. That it came in the divisional round of the playoffs against the Oakland Raiders, tying the game with 27 seconds remaining, makes Vinatieri's kick one of the truly special moments in Patriots history.
Many talk about the "tuck rule," the controversial play in which Patriots quarterback Tom Brady appeared to lose a fumble that would have ended the game but was instead ruled an incomplete pass by referee Walt Coleman. And that was a big play, too.
But it wouldn't have its place in history if not for Vinatieri's improbable 45-yard game-tying field goal that came after it, which is why it could be argued that one can't have the tuck without the kick, or can't have the kick without the tuck.
They must be paired together.
Vinatieri most recently revisited the kick in an interview on the NBC Sports Network, estimating he might make it 10 to 20 percent of the time.
"Four or five inches of snow on the ground, pretty good blizzard, backs against the wall and it’s a 45-yarder; it’s probably a low percentage kick, but thank God everything worked out well that time and I got it over the line of scrimmage and on line," he said. "It took a long time, I think I prayed about 10 prayers in the three or four seconds it took to get to the upright."
Vinatieri's 45-yarder sent the game to overtime, when he drilled a more manageable game-winning 23-yard field goal on the Patriots' first possession, as the Raiders never had the ball.
The Patriots, of course, went on to win their first Super Bowl.
This is one of three nominations for the most memorable play in team history. Over a span of three days we’ll also feature the Snowplow Game of 1982, in which the New England Patriots beat the Dolphins 3-0, and Adam Vinatieri's game-winning 48-yard field goal to beat the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.