Report: NFL Finds 11 of 12 Patriot Game Balls Under-Inflated Against Colts

New England Patriots
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady smiles on January 18 after his team beat the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game. USA TODAY Sports/Greg M. Cooper

Updated | Eleven of the 12 game day balls provided by the New England Patriots were found by the NFL to have much lower air pressure than the rules require, according to ESPN. The deflated balls were for the AFC Championship Game on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, which the Patriots went on to win 45-7.

The NFL investigation is still ongoing and is expected to take up to three more days. "We have been in complete cooperation with the league and will continue to do so," a Patriots spokesman told ESPN. "I had no knowledge whatsoever of this situation whatsoever until Monday morning. I can tell you that in my entire coaching career, I have never talked to any player, staff member about football air pressure. That is not a subject that I have ever brought up," Coach Bill Belichick said during a press conference on Thursday morning. The coach added that he was "shocked" to learn the 11 balls were under-inflated.

Footballs are required to weigh 14 to 15 ounces, inflated with 12.5 to 14.5 pounds per square inch. However, the balls in question were two pounds per square inch under the minimum. Deflating balls is against league regulations. Teams are in charge of preparing the balls themselves. The balls are then given to a referee for approval about two hours before the game begins, then are returned to the team's ball attendant, who handles them during the game. Ball attendants are technically staff members of the NFL, not the team itself.

A deflated ball handles differently than a fully inflated one. A low-pressure ball could be easier to catch, handle and even throw, which, arguably, would be a competitive advantage for the Patriots. Coach Bill Belichick's record isn't exactly spotless: He was fined half a million dollars for spying on the New York Jets' hand signals in 2007.

Even so, Colts player Dwayne Allen doesn't think the inflation level of the balls affected the final score—the game was a blowout in favor of the Patriots.

If found guilty of Deflate Gate, it is unclear what kind of penalty the Patriots could face beyond a $25,000 fine, though stripping them of the Colts win is unlikely. The league could act against the team's future draft picks.