The NFL’s investigation into whether the New England Patriots were using improperly inflated balls during the AFC Championship game started after an interception in the second quarter, Bob Glauber of Newsday reports.
NFL teams use their own balls on offence. With 9:21 left in the second quarter, Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson got his hands on one of the balls the Pats were using when he picked off Tom Brady.
According to Glauber, Jackson gave the ball to an equipment manager on the sideline. The equipment manager thought the ball was suspiciously light, and he sent his suspicions up the chain of command. He told coach Chuck Pagano about the ball. Pagano told general manager Ryan Grigson. And Grigson told NFL director of football operations Mike Kensil, who told the referees at halftime.
On the first play of the second half, there was a delay when a ball that the Patriots were using was taken out of play.
Here’s the official switching out the balls:
By rule, balls must be inflated to between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch. Teams provide and use their own balls, but they are inspected by the referee two hours and 15 minutes before kickoff. In theory, deflating a ball makes it softer and easier to catch and throw, especially in the rain.
While the Patriots were using different balls from the Colts on offence, it’s not like no one else could feel how heavy they were. The official who spots the ball had his hands on New England’s footballs before every play. According to ProFootballTalk, several “abnormal” balls were removed from play during the game.
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