League says Patriots used under-inflated balls

Fri Jan 23, 2015 4:49pm EST
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(Reuters) - The NFL said on Friday that its ongoing investigation into the New England Patriots has shown that the team used balls that were under inflated during a victory that clinched a Super Bowl berth.

But the league said it has not made any judgments and will not do so until it concludes the investigation and considered all of the relevant evidence.

After nearly 40 interviews, the NFL said evidence supports the conclusion that illegal balls were used by the Patriots in the first half but were properly inflated for the second half of their 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

"The goals of the investigation will be to determine the explanation for why footballs used in the game were not in compliance with the playing rules and specifically whether any noncompliance was the result of deliberate action," the NFL said in a statement.

The Patriots built a 17-7 lead in the first half on Sunday's game and outscored the Colts 28-0 in the second half.

The growing storm over the team's use of illegal balls, which is being referred to as 'deflate-gate,' has dominated the buildup to the Feb. 1 Super Bowl versus the Seattle Seahawks.

Under NFL rules, game balls must be inflated to between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch and no alteration is allowed once they are approved.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes during Sunday's game in wet conditions where a firm grip on a slippery ball could have helped.

Both Brady and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick have professed innocence regarding the deflated ball issue and said they knew nothing about it until Monday.   Continued...

Jan 18, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) passes the ball over Indianapolis Colts defensive end Arthur Jones (97) during the first quarter in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports