American Football: Patriots saved by controversial call

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The Independent Online

Memories of 1976 came flooding back in New England as a controversial call helped the Patriots to victory at the snowstorm-hit Foxboro Stadium.

The Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, was adjudged to have been bringing his arm forward when drilled on a blitz by the Oakland Raiders' Charles Woodson – a decision that saved his team. TV replays showed it to have been a wrong decision.

Trailing 13-3 entering the fourth quarter and with field conditions hardly lending themselves to chances of a comeback, the Patriots rallied behind Brady who ran six yards for a touchdown with 10 minutes left, bringing them within a field goal.

After the controversial 'was he throwing?' incident, Raiders linebacker Greg Biekert recovered at his own 48 with 1min 47sec remaining and seemed to have sealed the game for Oakland. But NFL officials requested a replay and the call was overturned after referee Walt Coleman ruled Brady's arm was moving forward. However, replays showed Brady bringing the ball in without moving his arm forward. "I feel like it was a crap call," said Woodson.

In 1976, it was the Raiders who benefited from a suspect call late in a divisional play-off. The Patriot's Ray Hamilton was called for a questionable late hit that kept alive an Oakland drive, before the quarterback Ken Stabler scored on a one-yard keeper to secure a 21-17 victory.

Sparked by yesterday's call, the Patriots moved into field goal range, where Adam Vinatieri drilled a 45-yarder to send the game into overtime. In overtime, Vinatieri kicked a 23-yard field goal to complete the escape.