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NFL owners vote to abolish tuck rule

03.20.13 at 1:22 pm ET
The Patriots benefited from the "Tuck Rule" in the 2001 playoffs against the Raiders. (AP)

The Patriots benefited from the tuck rule in the 2001 playoffs against the Raiders. (AP)

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.

“I 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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