Jon Gruden’s final game as the head coach of the Raiders was the Tuck Rule Game in January of 2002, which appeared to end with an Oakland victory on a Tom Brady fumble, only to have it ruled an incomplete pass on replay, with the Raiders going on to lose. Gruden must have been feeling deja vu on Friday night.
Gruden, now back as the Raiders’ head coach, made his preseason debut against the Lions on Friday night, and the game ended on a play reminiscent of the tuck rule.
Lions quarterback Matt Cassel — Brady’s former backup — dropped back to pass with Detroit trailing 16-10 and 32 seconds left. He was hit, the ball came loose, and the Raiders pounced on it. Just as there was in the infamous tuck rule game, there was some question over whether it should have been ruled a fumble or a forward pass.
“Was the arm in motion? The last Jon Gruden game as a Raider was the tuck rule,” Raiders preseason announcer Beth Mowins said. “Just throwing that out there.”
The officials ruled it a fumble, didn’t review it, and the Raiders won the game. The tuck rule no longer exists in the NFL, having been eliminated in 2013. But as Gruden saw the end of the game unfold, he must have been flashing back to his last game as Oakland’s coach, sixteen and a half years ago.