According to Bob Kravitz of WTHR, the New England Patriots may have used deflated footballs against the Indianapolis Colts in their convincing 45-7 win in the AFC Championship game per league sources:
In theory, being slightly deflated would enable a football to be better gripped in the rainy conditions that we saw last night. It would allow for a football to be more easily thrown and caught. At one point, the game officials reportedly went as far as to remove a football from play in order to weigh it:
Jan 18, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick in the second half against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
If true, it only adds more fuel to the fire that the Patriots still utilize cheating in order to win, especially given the recent “Spygate” debacle. However, it doesn’t change the fact that the Colts were completely dominated last night. If the game was reasonably close, the Colts may have a legitimate beef.
Yet, a deflated football doesn’t stop the team from tackling LeGarrette Blount. It doesn’t allow Julian Edelman to get consistently wide open on 3rd down throws. It doesn’t cause a football to carom off Josh Cribbs‘ helmet on an early punt return.
It will be interesting to see how this investigation turns out and maybe it will give Colts’ fans some solace after what was a disappointing showing from their favorite team. Any move that fairly punishes the Patriots and takes away draft picks is probably a good thing for the Colts, as they’re still a team that Indianapolis has yet to beat when it’s mattered most in the “Andrew Luck Era”.
Update (7:24 AM): Bob Glauber of New York Newsday has confirmed that NFL league officials are looking into whether footballs were properly inflated in Sunday’s AFC Championship game: