Report: Colts Raised Concerns About Under-Inflated Balls After Game vs. Patriots in Indianapolis

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Tom Brady holds the football at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 16, 2014Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: More details keep emerging on Deflategate.

Sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Wednesday that the Colts had concerns about under-inflated balls after their Week 11 game against the Patriots at the Lucas Oil Stadium — with the roof closed — on Nov. 16.

Colts safety Mike Adams intercepted Tom Brady twice in that game and gave the balls to the Colts’ equipment manager to save — and both times there were concerns about the balls feeling under-inflated, sources told Schefter.

According to the Schefter report, the Colts raised concerns to the league, which was aware of the issue going into the AFC Championship game Sunday in Foxborough.

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The NFL found 11 of the 12 footballs the Patriots used in Sunday’s game were under-inflated beyond the league requirements, according to an NFL letter about the investigation that was shared with the Boston Globe on Tuesday.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen first reported Tuesday night that 11 of the 12 game balls allotted to the Patriots were to be under-inflated by two pounds of air per-square-inch (PSI) each according to NFL sources.

According to the Mortensen report, the NFL is “disappointed… angry… distraught” after spending considerable time on the findings earlier Tuesday.

NFL sources confirmed to Mortensen Wednesday that the footballs were properly inspected and approved by game referee Walt Anderson 2 hours and 15 minutes before kickoff, before they were returned to each team.

ESPN Sports Radio 810 in Kansas City reported that the Patriots footballs were tested during halftme, re-inflated after when they were found to be under-inflated, then the balls put back in play for the second half and then tested again after the game.

All of the balls the Colts used met standards, according to the ESPN report.

An NFL football must be inflated with between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds of air (PSI) and weigh between 14 and 15 ounces per the league’s rule book. In addition, home and road teams must each provide 12 game balls to be inspected by the league before kickoff.

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Game officials discovered at halftime that game balls were under-inflated according to the Globe. The officials tested each ball twice using different gauges.

“Each team will make 12 primary balls available for testing by the Referee two hours and 15 minutes prior to the starting time of the game to meet League requirements,” according to the NFL rule book. “The home team will also make 12 backup balls available for testing in all stadiums. In addition, the visitors, at their discretion, may bring 12 backup balls to be tested by the Referee for games held in outdoor stadiums. For all games, eight new footballs, sealed in a special box and shipped by the manufacturer to the Referee, will be opened in the officials’ locker room two hours and 15 minutes prior to the starting time of the game. These balls are to be specially marked by the Referee and used exclusively for the kicking game.”

NFL senior VP Greg Aiello would not comment on the Mortensen report.

NFL executive VP of football operations Troy Vincent, speaking on Pro Football Talk Live on NBC Sports radio Tuesday, said the investigation should be coming to a close soon.

“We’re hoping to wrap that up in the next two or three days,” Vincent said. “The team is in place in New England now interviewing staff members.”

Vincent did not say when decisions on the findings would be made and/or any potential punishment imposed.

According to the rule book: “If any individual alters the footballs, or if a non-approved ball is used in the game, the person responsible and, if appropriate, the head coach or other club personnel will be subject to discipline, including but not limited to, a fine of $25,000.”

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Vincent said the league is looking to get the focus back on the Super Bowl soon.

“We obviously want to get that on the table, get that behind us so that we can really get back to the game itself…,” Vincent said. “For a fan, you want to know that everything’s equal. The integrity of the game is so important.”

On Monday night, WCVB-TV (Ch. 5) sports anchor Mike Lynch reported that Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who intercepted Tom Brady in the second quarter of Sunday’s game, told Indy coach Chuck Pagano that the ball felt deflated.

Newsday’s Bob Glauber, citing “a person familiar with the background of the matter,” also reported that Jackson “gave the ball to a member of the Colts’ equipment staff, who noticed the ball seemed underinflated and then notified” Pagano. Glauber reports that Colts general manager Ryan Grigson was then notified in the press box and contacted NFL director of football operations Mike Kensil, who then communicated the information to the officials on the field at halftime.

In addition, CBS Sports reported late Tuesday the Ravens also suspected balls had been under-inflated in their loss to the Patriots in the divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium.

In 2011, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady admitted to liking a deflated ball.

“When Gronk scores… he spikes the ball and he deflates the ball,” Brady said on WEEI after beating the Jets in November 2011. “I love that, because I like the deflated ball. But I feel bad for that football, because he puts everything he can into those spikes.”

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers told a Milwaukee radio station Tuesday he likes an over-inflated ball instead because his hands are large.

“My belief is that there should be a minimum air-pressure requirement but not a maximum,” Rodgers told ESPN Milwaukee. “There’s no advantage, in my opinion — we’re not kicking the football — there’s no advantage in having a pumped-up football.”

A recently unearthed clip from the Patriots-Packers battle earlier this season has CBS announcers Phil Simms and Jim Nantz discussing a conversation they had with Aaron Rodgers in which the Packers’ quarterback claimed he preferred his footballs overinflated.

“We talked to Rodgers, about, ‘how do you like your footballs? Because you can rub them up before the game,” Nantz said, prompting agreement from Simms.

“He said something unique, ‘I like to push the limit to how much air we can put in the football, even go over, what they allow you to do, and see if the officials take air out of it,’” Simms added.

The CBS’s top broadcasting never raised the issue of the over-inflating practice by the Packer’s QB being against NFL rules.

“He said, ‘God gave me big hands and a strong grip,’” Nantz said of Rodgers’ rationale for flaunting the rule book.

ORIGINAL STORY: FOXBOROUGH — Here we go, again.

Another allegation of the Patriots bending the rules has surfaced in the wake of New England’s convincing 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game.

Last week, it was the Ravens griping about the Patriots substitutions on offense. This week comes a report focusing on the amount of air in the footballs at Gillette Stadium.

NFL spokesman Michael Signora confirmed Monday that the league is looking into the apparent use of overly deflated footballs by the Patriots during Sunday night’s rainy showdown against Indy. At least one football was taken out of play during the third quarter of Sunday night’s game — resulting in a brief delay — while the Patriots were on offense.

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The NFL is investigating whether the Patriots deflated footballs that were used in their AFC championship game victory over the Colts. Boston Globe Photo

Dean Blandino, the NFL’s VP of officiating, was asked how the ball issue could have come to the attention of the game officials.

“It could come from the opponent, it could come from them noticing something, something clearly abnormal about the football,” Blandino said on NFL Network Monday. “So there are a lot of different ways that it could come to their attention. But once it does come to their attention and they recognize it, then that ball is removed. It will be further investigated.”

Longtime Indianapolis scribe Bob Kravitz first raised the controversy Sunday night, tweeting that a source informed him the NFL is investigating the possibility that the Patriots deflated footballs in Sunday’s night’s game against the Colts.

A deflated football would be easier to grip, throw, and catch in rainy weather conditions compared to a fully inflated ball.

Patriots defensive lineman and first-responder Vince Wilfork said, “I never heard nothing about [potentially deflated footballs]. I don’t know anything. I don’t touch footballs, I tackle people.”

On Monday, NBC Sports reported that “several balls were removed from play for being underinflated.”

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady laughed off the controversy Monday calling the reports “ridiculous.”

“I think I’ve heard it all at this point,” Brady said, laughing out loud during his weekly appearance on WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan show. “That’s the last of my worries. I don’t even respond to stuff like this.”

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he’ll cooperate with the league investigation fully,” Belichick said. “…I didn’t know anything about it until this morning.”

“We’ll cooperate fully with whatever the league wants us to; whatever questions they have for us, whatever they want us to do.

The reports will no doubt have Patriots haters revisiting other allegations that have surfaced against head coach Bill Belichick in the past, including when the team was penalized for videotaping the New York Jets defensive signals during the 2007 season which resulted in the loss of a first-round draft pick in 2008 and a $500,000 fine paid by Belichick personally.

If the league investigation confirms that the Patriots used deflated footballs, it would result in lost draft picks for the Patriots according to Kravitz.

In 2012, the USC Trojans, under coach Lane Kiffin, were reprimanded for deflating balls at a USC-Oregon game. The team was fined and a student manager was fired after the Pac-12 finding.