The NFL judged 11 of the 12 footballs provided by the New England Patriots for the AFC Championship Game as under-inflated.
NFL has found that 11 of the Patriots footballs used in Sunday’s AFC title game were under-inflated by 2 lbs each, per league sources.
— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) January 21, 2015
Globe confirms that game officials discovered at halftime that game balls were underinflated. Tested each ball twice with different gauges
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) January 21, 2015
Rules decree balls inflated to 12.5 to 13.5 pounds-per-square-inch. The balls supplied by the Patriots fell short, according to Chris Mortensen, by two pounds each.
Given Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s game plan relying on a heavy dose of running back LeGarrette Blount, the under-inflated balls might have conceivably provided the Patriots with an advantage in terms of grip in inclement conditions. Though many quarterbacks generally prefer over-inflated footballs, receivers, in wet weather, would benefit from under-inflated balls. So, it’s not exactly clear, assuming the Patriots under-inflated the balls, what benefit they sought.
Balls lose pressure in cold weather. But the mercury reached higher than normal for January in Foxboro on Sunday night. The NFL tasks referees with gauging the pressure of the pigskins. But Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson alerted the officials to the problem after a 2nd-quarter interception of Tom Brady.
Brady called the allegations “ridiculous” on Monday and several Patriots players laughed off the charges, with Rob Gronkowski joking that his patented spikes might have deflated the balls.
The Patriots won the AFC Championship Game 45-7 and face the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl.