3:12pm: According to a report from WEEI.com, the 11 Patriots footballs determined to be below the acceptable inflation level were tested and removed from circulation at the half. During the second half, the team’s 12 backup game balls were subbed in — those balls were at an acceptable inflation level. The WEEI.com report indicates that testing was completed just as the second half was getting underway, which is why officials stopped play and swapped out the kicking ball on the first play in the third quarter.
An earlier report from Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk confirmed that the 11 underinflated balls were tested before the game and were at an acceptable level of inflation at that point.
In other words, while the inflation level of the balls likely had no impact on the outcome of the game, it seems something happened to that original set during the first half, since they had significantly less air at halftime than they did during the pre-game check.
WEDNESDAY, 7:40am: The NFL has determined that 11 of the 12 game balls used by the Patriots on Sunday were underinflated by about two pounds per square inch of air, reports Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com. According to Mortensen, the investigation is ongoing as the league attempts to determine how the balls became underinflated, but a source described the league as “disappointed” and “angry.” The NFL has not yet determined what, if any, sanctions or penalties will be imposed upon the Patriots.
MONDAY, 9:01am: The Patriots posted an impressive performance against the Colts last night in the AFC Championship, winning 45-7 at home on a rainy, windy Foxboro night. The victory stamped a sixth trip to the Super Bowl for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
Of course, a trip to the Super Bowl without controversy just wouldn’t be the “Patriot way.”
According to NFL rules as tweeted out by the New York Daily News for convenience, the home team is responsible for making a number of footballs available for testing prior to kickoff, to assure they meet the specifications required by the league.
Volin writes that the Patriots could be subject to a $25K fine, plus additional discipline for Belichick and any front office personnel involved. He also notes that WTHR reported the Patriots could face a potential forfeiting of draft picks, much like they were forced to following the SpyGate scandal.
The New York Daily News notes that a deflated football would be much easier to throw and catch in inclement weather such as what was experienced last night. They also put together quotes from Brady dismissing these allegations, stating that they are “ridiculous” and “the last of my worries.”
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk confirms that several abnormal footballs were removed from play throughout the course of the game. He also writes that he believes the league will come out with more information on the matter as soon as this morning.