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Report: NFL found 11 balls used by Patriots in Sunday’s AFC championship game to be underinflated

01.20.15 at 11:06 pm ET
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Deflategate continues.

According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, the NFL found 11 of the 12 Patriots’ footballs used in Sunday’€™s AFC title game were underinflated by two pounds of air each, known as PSI. He says the investigation is continuing as to how the 11 footballs became underinflated. The NFL requires balls to be inflated between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch and weigh between 14 and 15 ounces.

He added the NFL didn’t have any comment. The Patriots have said they will cooperate with the NFL and their investigation.

Bill Belichick was asked again on Tuesday of the allegations, and he said to defer all questions on that matter to the league.

There is no word on if, or what type of penalty the Patriots would be facing if true.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Super Bowl XLIX,

Patriots planning Super Bowl send-off for Monday

01.20.15 at 10:08 pm ET
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Tom Brady is heading to the Super Bowl for an NFL record sixth time. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tom Brady is heading to the Super Bowl for an NFL record sixth time. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

In a bit of a change from years past, the Patriots announced Tuesday evening that they will be leaving for Arizona and Super Bowl XLIX on Monday, Jan. 26. The Patriots will play Seattle in Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday, Feb. 1.

Factoring into the decision is the league’s Pro Bowl game at the same venue the Sunday prior to the Super Bowl. This season, the Pro Bowl will be held at the same site as the Super Bowl on the prior Sunday.

The league presumably would like to avoid the distraction of the Super Bowl competing teams arriving on the same day as the Pro Bowl.

Since January 2010, the Pro Bowl has been played the week before the Super Bowl. That year, the game was held at same venue (Miami) as the Super Bowl. The game then moved back to Hawaii for the next four years.

The Patriots also revealed they will practice Thursday through Sunday before flying west on Monday, just a day before the annual media day at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Seven years ago, the last time the Super Bowl was in Glendale, the Patriots left on Sunday, with a rally beforehand at Gillette Stadium. The team announced Tuesday evening that details of a send-off rally are still to be determined.

In years past, teams have traditionally arrived at the Super Bowl location on the Sunday before. However, there have been cases in the last several years of teams arriving the Monday before and the Patriots are making that adjustment this year.

Three years ago, the Patriots arrived in Indianapolis on Sunday, with a rally beforehand at Gillette Stadium.

Read More: Media Day, New England Patriots, nfl, Seattle Seahawks

How defensive will Bill Belichick get with Seahawks?

01.20.15 at 7:48 pm ET
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Vince Wilfork (right) will be playing in his fourth Super Bowl. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Vince Wilfork (right) will be playing in his fourth Super Bowl. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

A strong defense starts with a strong front.

After watching film from Sunday’s 45-7 romp over the Colts, the Patriots defensive line looked strong to Bill Belichick. What was particularly encouraging to the Patriots coach was the way the unit, anchored by nose tackle Vince Wilfork, played without Chris Jones and depleted by the mid-game loss of Sealver Siliga to a foot injury.

“I thought our line played solidly,” Belichick said. “It was good. We brought Joe [Vellano] up on the roster for Chris, who was inactive. So with Joe, Alan [Branch], Sealver and Vince [Wilfork], the play time was kind of divided there. It was good that we had that little bit extra depth, especially when Sealver went out for, I don’€™t know, half a quarter or however long it was.”

Of a possible 56 defensive snaps, Rob Ninkovich (52) and Chandler Jones (50) led the way among edge rushers and down linemen. Wilfork led all interior linemen with 31 snaps (55 percent) while the rotation of Siliga (26), Branch (20) and Vellano (20) filled out the rest of the reps for defensive tackles.

What Belichick saw upon further review was the effort they provided in disrupting Andrew Luck‘s passing pocket.

“I thought those guys, it was kind of an unsung job in that game of pushing the pocket, trying to keep Luck from stepping up. It wasn’€™t perfect, but we didn’€™t make it as easy for them as maybe he’€™s had at other times to move up into the pocket and deliver the ball that he had to deal with some guys getting pushed on him a little bit. That was kind of the idea there. But no, I think those guys competed well. They gave us a high level of play.”

The line may have to go to the next level if they are to disrupt the Seattle running game, led by Marshawn Lynch. The disruption led to a dominance on the stat sheet in the AFC championship. The Colts converted just three of 11 chances on third down and ran the ball just 19 times for 84 yards. Compare that with 194 rushing yards on 35 attempts by Seattle against the Packers last Sunday, to go along with 8-of-16 conversion rate on third down. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, nfl, Seattle Seahawks

Bill Vinovich will work as referee for Super Bowl XLIX

01.20.15 at 6:12 pm ET
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Bill Vinovich will work as the referee for Super Bowl XLIX. (Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Bill Vinovich will work as the referee for Super Bowl XLIX. (Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Bill Vinovich was named as the referee for Super Bowl XLIX, the league announced Tuesday.

Vinovich is in his ninth year as an NFL official and sixth as a referee. This will mark the third New England game of the year for Vinovich, and the second playoff contest. His first Patriots game came in December against the Dolphins, while his second game was in the divisional playoffs against the Ravens. Vinovich was the referee for the memorable “four offensive lineman” set that drew the ire of Baltimore coach John Harbaugh.

In the two New England games this season, Vinovich called 12 penalties for 111 yards against the Patriots and 12 penalties for 100 yards against their opponents.

Here’s a look at who has worked as the lead official for each New England game this year, and the corresponding penalties for each game, not counting the flags that were offset or declined.

Sept. 7 at Miami: Walt Anderson — 9 penalties, 100 yards (Dolphins — 4 penalties, 26 yards)
Sept. 14 at Minnesota: Tony Corrente — 15 penalties, 163 yards (Vikings — 7 penalties, 58 yards)
Sept. 21 vs. Oakland: Pete Morelli — 6 penalties, 59 yards (Raiders — 6 penalties, 49 yards)
Sept. 29 at Kansas City: John Parry — 3 penalties, 30 yards (Chiefs — 4 penalties, 35 yards)
Oct. 5 vs. Cincinnati: Jerome Boger — 12 penalties, 114 yards (Bengals — 4 penalties, 37 yards)
Oct. 12 at Buffalo: Walt Coleman — 9 penalties, 60 yards (Bills — 8 penalties, 107 yards)
Oct. 16 vs. Jets: Bill Leavy — 9 penalties, 64 yards (Jets — 7 penalties, 70 yards)
Oct. 23 vs. Chicago: Brad Allen — 7 penalties, 38 yards (Bears — 5 penalties, 41 yards)
Nov. 2 vs. Denver: Walt Anderson — 9 penalties, 71 yards (Broncos — 10 penalties, 72 yards)
Nov. 16 at Indy: Pete Morelli — 5 penalties, 53 yards (Colts — 4 penalties, 27 yards)
Nov. 23 vs. Detroit: Tony Corrente — 11 penalties, 89 yards (Lions — 9 penalties, 54 yards)
Nov. 30 at Green Bay: Ed Hochuli — 4 penalties, 25 yards (Packers — 4 penalties, 22 yards)
Dec. 7 at San Diego: Bill Leavy — 6 penalties, 70 yards (Chargers — 8 penalties, 61 yards)
Dec. 14 vs. Miami: Bill Vinovich — 5 penalties, 51 yards (Dolphins — 5 penalties, 35 yards)
Dec. 21 at Jets: Brad Allen — 5 penalties, 38 yards (Jets — 2 penalties, 14 yards)
Dec. 28 vs. Buffalo: Terry McAulay — 5 penalties, 55 yards (Bills — 5 penalties, 44 yards)
Jan. 10 Divisional playoffs vs. Baltimore: Bill Vinovich — 7 penalties, 60 yards (Ravens — 7 penalties, 65 penalties)
Jan. 18 AFC championship vs. Indy: Walt Anderson — 6 penalties, 45 yards (Colts — 3 penalties, 23 yards)

For more on Vinovich’s work as a referee, check out his page at Pro Football Reference. For more information on the Super Bowl crew, click through to the always reliable Football Zebras. And for more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: 2015 playoffs, Bill Vinovich, Super Bowl XLIX,

NFL executive VP of football operations: Deflategate investigation to be done in 2-3 days

01.20.15 at 3:20 pm ET
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The investigation into Deflategate may be over sooner than some people thought.

Appearing on “PFT Live” on NBC Sports Radio, NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said it should be over pretty 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.”

“We obviously want to get that on the table, get that behind us so that we can really get back to the game itself,” he added.

Why is such a big deal being made of the situation? Vincent says it’s all about an equal playing field.

“For a fan, you want to know that everything’€™s equal,” he said. “The integrity of the game is so important.”

Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked again on Tuesday if he had been contacted by the league, and the coach said to defer all questions to the league. The Patriots will resume practice Thursday in preparation for the Super Bowl Feb. 1 in Glendale, Arizona, against the Seahawks.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: 2015 playoffs, Bill Belichick,

Bill Belichick continues to deflect on deflation, focused only on Super Bowl game plan

01.20.15 at 2:13 pm ET
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Bill Belichick is focused only on getting ready for the Super Bowl against Seattle. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick is focused only on getting ready for the Super Bowl against Seattle. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick has no time for any “Deflategate” questions, nor does it appear he will in the next two weeks.

Asked Tuesday during a conference call if the NFL has contacted him about the ongoing issue surrounding deflating footballs, Belichick deflected to the league office on Park Avenue in New York.

“Any questions on that you should talk to them about,” Belichick said.

Belichick and his coaching staff are busy right now putting together a game plan for Seattle to give to the players when they return from their two-day break on Thursday.

Belichick was asked how the team is going to handle this week in terms of how much of the game plan will be in place prior to leaving for the Super Bowl, likely on Sunday.

“We’€™ll work through that the next couple days and be ready for the players when they come back on Thursday. We’€™ll have it figured out by then,” Belichick said.

Naturally, “Deflategate” has dominated the conversation following the Patriots’ 45-7 win in the AFC championship against the Colts. It was learned earlier on Monday the NFL was looking into the matter, and now we reportedly know where it all originated.

According to Newsday, it all started following Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson’s interception of Tom Brady in the second quarter. Jackson gave the ball to a member of the Colts’ equipment staff who thought the ball was under-inflated. The staff member then told coach Chuck Pagano.
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Read More: 2015 playoffs, AFC Championship, Bill Belichick, Deflategate

Bill Belichick compares Russell Wilson to the Roger Staubach ‘Houdini’ act

01.20.15 at 1:28 pm ET
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Bill Belichick sees a lot of Roger Staubach in Russell Wilson (3). (Getty Images)

Bill Belichick sees a lot of Roger Staubach in Russell Wilson (3). (Getty Images)

This isn’t the first time Bill Belichick has seen a quarterback like Russell Wilson.

The Seattle Seahawks quarterback pulled off an escape act Sunday unlike any other in NFC championship lore. While Wilson was running around the field, especially on the critical two-point conversion in the final two minutes of regulation, Belichick thought back to someone else doing likewise.

“He just knows where people are,” Belichick said. “It looks like he’€™s going to get tackled and he doesn’€™t. It kind of reminds of watching [Roger] Staubach. You think he doesn’€™t see them, but he sees them or somehow he just knows they’€™re there. He’€™s got an uncanny sense of awareness of what’€™s around him ‘€“ good or bad. I don’€™t know how you ‘€“ I can’€™t really define it. I don’€™t know how you coach it; it’€™s just an awareness that all great players have it. All good players have it. I think he just has it at a higher level. It’€™s really impressive.”

Belichick’s answer was actually sparked by a question comparing Wilson’s mobility to Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.

“They’€™re both pretty strong runners. There’€™s just something, I can’€™t really put it into words. Wilson’€™s just got an instinctiveness,” Belichick said.

Staubach’s elusiveness as a runner initially drew criticism from his head coach Tom Landry in 1971, as he was fighting for the starting job with Craig Morton. It also earned him the “Roger the Dodger” nickname.

“I don’€™t know. It’€™s just the way I remember a lot of Staubach’€™s spectacular running plays where it looked like he was about to get tackled by three or four guys and he would Houdini it out of there somehow,” Belichick said. “Wilson did some of the same things.”

As far as Houdini acts, Sunday’s in Seattle ranks up there with legendary performances in NFL playoff history, right alongside the “Hail Mary” Staubach threw to Drew Pearson in 1975 at the end of a playoff win in Minnesota. Belichick doesn’t have to go back that far for a similar – and unpleasant – personal recollection of Wilson’s escape ability. On Oct. 14, 2012, Belichick’s Patriots led Wilson’s Seahawks, 23-10 with under 10 minutes left. Wilson connected with Braylon Edwards on a touchdown pass with seven minutes left and then hit a fly pattern to Sydney Rice with 1:18 left to post a 24-23 win in Seattle. Will film of that game help?

“Yeah sure, I think there’€™s some value to it,” Belichick said. “We’€™ll definitely look at that game, as I’€™m sure they will. Some things are similar, but it’€™s a couple years ago and there are a lot of things that have changed. It will be one piece of a big puzzle. We’€™ll just try to put it all together and see what we can come up with. But yeah, no, we’€™ll definitely look at that. It’€™s relevant.”

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Read More: 2015 playoffs, Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, Roger Staubach
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