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Report: Officials properly checked footballs before game

01.21.15 at 12:33 pm ET
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According to a report from Pro Football Talk, the NFL reviewed its game officials’ actions Sunday and determined that they properly checked the footballs before the AFC championship game.

It was later determined that 11 of the 12 footballs the Patriots were using on offense were substantially deflated from the minimum accepted pressure of 12.5 pounds per square inch (PSI).

The Pro Football Talk report, which credits a league source, also indicated that the two-pound difference in PSI would not be obvious to an official handling the ball unless specifically looking for it.

The Colts reportedly alerted the officials to the issue during the first half, and the balls were tested at halftime and reinflated to the proper amount. It did not have a detrimental affect on Tom Brady and Co., as the Patriots outscored Indianapolis 28-0 in the second half en route to a 45-7 victory.

Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Deflate Gate, Super Bowl XLIX,

Indy Star’s Gregg Doyel on D&C: ‘You can’t send this [Patriots] team to the Super Bowl’

01.21.15 at 9:12 am ET
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Gregg Doyel

Gregg Doyel

Indianapolis Star columnist Gregg Doyel checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to talk about the latest Deflategate news and call for harsh punishment for Bill Belichick and the Patriots. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Following an ESPN report that 11 of the 12 footballs used by the Patriots in Sunday’s AFC championship game were underinflated, Doyel said the Patriots should not represent their conference in the Super Bowl.

“I’m not sure how, in a fair world … a team plays, there’s four teams left, one of those four teams tries to rig the game — they’re rigging the game — and got caught,” Doyel said. “Yes, it’s a blowout. Yes, the Patriots are a lot better than the Colts. No, the footballs weren’t going to decide it. I think we call can think that — we don’t know that — we can all think that, and I do think that.

“But if you get caught rigging the game, during the game, and you get caught literally that day rigging the game, and you’ve got two weeks before the next one, I don’t know how with a straight face [Roger] Goodell says, ‘Yeah, we caught you rigging the game, but that’s OK, go ahead, guys, and play a Super Bowl.’ I’m not sure what world that makes any sense to me.”

Added Doyel: “I’m sure I’m in the minority saying you can’t send this team to the Super Bowl. But I really believe that. You can’t do it. They got caught rigging the game. You can’t send them.”

Doyel predicted that Belichick would get suspended for some games next season, but he said he’d like see the coach banned from the game for good.

“[Goodell] might suspend Bill Belichick for the rest of his life,” Doyel said. “You know what, I hope he does. I hope he suspends him for the rest of his life starting tomorrow.”

Asked who should take the Patriots’ place in Arizona, Doyel suggest the Colts or the Packers.

“If I’m Roger Goodell, the Colts are on a plane going to Glendale,” Doyel said. “Not because the Colts deserve it. They don’t. They don’t. It’s not about the Colts at all. It’s because the Patriots don’t deserve it. They don’t deserve it. But there has to be a Super Bowl. The Seahawks, the world, the NFL fans, we all deserve a Super Bowl We need a Super Bowl. We get one.

“The team that tried to rig the AFC title game and got caught doing it can’t be in that Super Bowl. Now, you need two teams to be in that Super Bowl. Pick one. OK, not the Colts, fine. Pick the last team to beat the Patriots — the Packers, as a matter of fact. The other teams in the NFC, pick them. But, do not send the team that rigged the AFC title game. Do not pat them on the head and say, ‘No harm, no foul, guys. We’re going to dock you some money and a draft pick, but you go try to win that Super Bowl.’ Don’t do that.”

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Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Bill Belichick, Deflategate, Gregg Doyel

What sort of punishment could Patriots face if found guilty in Deflategate?

01.21.15 at 1:14 am ET
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Tom Brady fires a pass Sunday against the Colts in the AFC championship. (Getty Images)

Tom Brady prepares to pass Sunday against the Colts in the AFC championship game. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

The landscape around what some are calling “Deflategate” changed late Tuesday night, as a report from ESPN indicated that 11 of the Patriots’ 12 footballs that were weighed by officials before Sunday’s AFC title game came in underinflated by two pounds of air (PSI) when they were weighed after the game.

The idea of deflated footballs having an impact in Sunday’s game is laughable on the surface — what would that do to one of the most lopsided conference championship games in recent memory? But now, if the officials were found to have gone through the proper procedures when it came to weighing the footballs and weather was not found to be an issue, the story now seems to be a far more serious matter, one that could result in fines or even the loss of a draft pick if the Patriots are found guilty of tampering or altering the football.

In the NFL rulebook, there is very specific wording that prohibits changing the game balls in any way after the officials have checked them two hours and 15 minutes before game time. According to the NFL game operations manual, “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.”

While it’s debatable just how much of an impact it ended up having — New England won, 45-7 — the idea that someone had access to the footballs and could tamper with them between the officials’ check and the game is troubling. According to a report from the Boston Globe, game officials discovered at halftime that game balls were under-inflated after testing each ball twice with different gauges.

In terms of a potential punishment, there doesn’t appear to be much precedent, at least on an NFL level. In a November 30 game this season between the Vikings and Panthers in freezing Minnesota, cameras caught sideline attendants using heaters to warm up footballs, which is against league rules. NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino told the NFL Network the next day that officials warned both the teams not to heat up footballs during the game, and added that a similar reminder would be sent out across the league that week not to warm footballs during the game.

“You can’t do anything with the footballs in terms of any artificial, whether you’re heating them up, whether it’s a regular game ball or kicking ball. You can’t do anything to the football,” Blandino said at the time. “So that was noticed during the game, both teams were made aware of it during the game, and we will certainly remind the clubs as we get into more cold weather games that you can’t do anything with the football in terms of heating them up with those sideline heaters.”
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Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Bill Belichick, Deflategate, Lane Kiffin

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,
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