The Patriots attempted to gain an advantage by slightly deflating their own balls to make it easier for Tom Brady to throw and for his receivers to catch the ball. While deflated balls wouldn't explain why the Patriots stomped the Colts by a final score of 45-7, it can't just be ignored that they broke the rules.
Now, reports have surfaced from ESPN that the Patriots were found to have used 11 deflated footballs out of their allotted 12 balls. The rule states that the footballs must inflate to between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch (PSI). The belief is that these footballs were 2 pounds per square inch under the minimum limit.
One source described the league as "disappointed ... angry ... distraught" after spending considerable time on the findings earlier Tuesday.
Part of the investigation that needs further vetting is how the 11 footballs became underinflated.
The game balls that each team received for preparation were required to be inspected and approved by referee Walt Anderson two hours and 15 minutes before kickoff, then returned to a ball attendant.
No alteration of footballs is allowed once they are approved, under league rules and regulations.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick earlier Tuesday deferred questions about the investigation, saying reporters should ask league officials. Belichick earlier said he wasn't aware there was an issue until Monday morning and promised to "cooperate fully with whatever the league wants us to, whatever questions they ask."
Belichick, of course, was fined $500,000 in 2007 for having an assistant spy on the New York Jets' defensive signals.
The NFL game operations manual calls for at least a $25,000 fine for those who alters footballs. The Patriots could also lose draft picks if found guilty.