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NFL owners vote to abolish tuck rule

03.20.13 at 1:22 pm ET

The NFL voted to abolish the tuck rule on Wednesday at the league meetings, with the clubs voting 29-1 to do away with the rule that helped play a role in the Patriots’€™ amazing run to the Super Bowl at the end of the 2001 season.

Twenty-nine teams voted to eliminate the rule. Only Pittsburgh voted to keep it on the books, with the Patriots and Redskins abstaining. The change means that when a quarterback tries to bring the ball back to his body after deciding not to throw and loses the handle, it will be a fumble and not an incomplete pass. If a passer loses control while the ball is going forward, it’€™s still incomplete.

New England benefited from the tuck rule in the 2001 divisional playoffs against the Raiders when a late fumble call was overturned and called an incomplete pass. That decision helped spur a late comeback by the Patriots, who would go on to win Super Bowl XXXVI later that year.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft — who said he has a picture of the play with an autograph from former Raiders coach Jon Gruden — joked earlier in the week about the possibility of doing away with the rule, and adding that he  might have to abstain from the vote for sentimental reasons.

‘€œI never heard of the tuck rule before the snow game. I love the tuck rule, and forever will,’€ he said.

The owners also voted to institute a rule that would ban players from leading with the crown of their helmets when outside the tackle box.

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