(Reuters) - The Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday insisted they did not warn the Indianapolis Colts about deflated footballs before January’s AFC championship involving the New England Patriots.
After defeating the Ravens 35-31 in the divisional round, the Patriots routed the Colts 45-7 using balls inflated below league standards, a scandal widely known as “Deflategate.”
“Prior to the AFC Championship game, no one from the Ravens talked to the Colts about deflated footballs,” the Ravens said in a statement. “We knew nothing of deflated footballs.
“(Ravens head coach) John Harbaugh has been consistent in his answers to reporters about this since he was first asked on NBC-TV at the Super Bowl.”
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been suspended by the National Football League for four games for being “generally aware” of the scheme allegedly carried out by two New England equipment managers. Brady, a four-time Super Bowl champion, is taking the case to federal court to fight the penalty.
“I’ve been consistent from the beginning when asked about whether the Ravens tipped off the Colts about deflated footballs,” Harbaugh said on Wednesday. “I’ll say it again – we didn’t.”
In documents released Tuesday, a Colts equipment manager indicated in an email that the Ravens special teams coordinator, Jerry Rossburg, called Colts head coach Chuck Pagano to warn him about the footballs.
The Ravens had issues with the footballs in their loss to the Patriots but Harbaugh said it was about kicking balls, not the ones used by Brady. Baltimore released a text message from the team’s kicking consultant, Randy Brown, to Pagano.
“Make sure the refs rotate the kicking balls cause last week they wouldn’t let our ball in the game,” the text said. “Their ball was done so poorly that it was nearly impossible to kick off deep.
“It was hard and not worked in well at all ... Let Tom (McMahon, Colts special teams coordinator) know he can call me at any time.”
Harbaugh, a former special teams coach, said Wednesday he knows “that members of the kicking group from teams talk to their counterparts all the time about conditions, including field, weather and footballs.”
He said Brown’s text “did not complain about anything the Patriots did. The Colts never responded to Randy’s text, and he had no further communications with the Colts on this matter.”
After defeating the Colts, the Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl over the Seattle Seahawks.
Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Editing by Bill Trott