Remember the Tuck Rule Game Between the Patriots and the Oakland Raiders? [VIDEO]
(AP) - Jon Gruden still thinks it was a fumble.
It's been nearly two decades since the Raiders coach walked out of a snow-covered Foxboro Stadium on the wrong end of a 16-13 overtime loss to New England during the 2001 playoffs.
The game turned late in the fourth quarter when Tom Brady was hit from behind and lost the ball. Initially ruled a fumble, it was reversed upon review and determined to be an incomplete pass under the obscure "tuck rule."
The Patriots tied the game, won it on an Adam Vinatieri field goal and rode the momentum to the franchise's first Super Bowl win.
"Yeah, thanks for bringing that up," Gruden said this week. "He did fumble that damn ball."
Now back with the Raiders after stints in Tampa Bay and as a broadcaster, Gruden returns to New England on Sunday in search of his first coaching win against Bill Belichick's Patriots. In his only other trip to New England in 2005, Gruden's Buccaneers lost 28-0.
He said opening this season at Carolina and playing New Orleans on Monday night made him feel as if he was in a "time warp" and back in the NFC South as Tampa Bay's coach.
That nostalgia is even more amplified this week against the Patriots.
"Anytime you step in a stadium like that, it does bring back memories," Gruden said. "Some of the memories aren't great, but we're excited to play."
So, too, is New England, which is trying to rebound from a 35-30 loss to Seattle.
As two coaches who basically ascended the coaching ranks around the same time, Belichick said his respect for Gruden has remained strong, even during his decade-long coaching hiatus after leaving Tampa Bay in 2008.
"It's a lot easier to have a relationship with somebody who's not in direct competition with you," Belichick said.
He believes Gruden's time in the broadcast booth has given him a perspective he didn't have in their previous two meetings.
But Belichick expects they will tuck away most of the pleasantries Sunday.
"When you're in competition with somebody else, it just changes a little bit during that time period," Belichick said. "But I'm sure at some point that it will be a different type of relationship."