In all likelihood, the New England Patriots did not beat the Indianapolis Colts, 45-7, in the AFC Championship Game simply because of deflated footballs. But they definitely helped.
Yes, the Colts could have done a much better job stopping the run – New England rushed 40 times for 177 yards and three touchdowns – but Tom Brady was also an effective 23-of-35 for 226 yards and three touchdowns in bad conditions. Andrew Luck, meanwhile, was 12-of-33 for 126 yards and two interceptions.
So, what do we make of all this?
“Well, I don’t think it really helped (the Patriots) that much in the game, but I think if a quarterback feels more comfortable with balls a certain way, then they’re going to try to get them that way,” NFL Hall of Fame quarterback and Seahawks radio analyst Warren Moon said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “It was the same way when I played. If I could get away with it and doctor the footballs up like our kickers would do, then we’d do it. If not, then we didn’t do it. I’d just have to adjust to how the football was.
“But especially in cold weather, when the balls get a little more slick and a little bit more hard, it’s nice to have it deflated a little bit so you can squeeze into the football and get a better grip on it,” Moon continued. “So I can understand why it was deflated, but if that’s against the rules, then whoever did it – if it’s somebody in the Patriots’ organization that had something to do with it – then they should be punished for it because it’s against the rules.”
Moon said the inflation of footballs was not closely monitored during his playing days – from 1978 to 2000 – but that the league began managing it much more closely in the last decade.
“All I know is, at one time we were able to do kind of what we wanted to as long as we didn’t make them look like they were old footballs or anything like that,” Moon said. “Basically, you’re going to have to adjust to the ball anyway regardless of what you do to them before the game based on the weather condition.”
As it stands, “DeflateGate” is yet another black eye for the league after what has been a tough year for Roger Goodell and NFL front offices.
Or is it?
“I think this is more about the New England Patriots – only because they were involved in Spygate and now here’s another deception-type method that they might be involved in,” Moon said. “I’m still not sure if they were involved in this or not. But because it’s New England, because it was a championship game, because they’ve already been involved in something like this, this thing has caught more fire than it normally would. I think this happens all the time in football, and because of who it was and the impact of how big of a game it was, that’s why this is creating a little bit more (of a) story line.”