Colts search for excuses after blowout loss
By Peter Santo
The Patriots defeated the Colts 45-7 sunday night to advance to super bowl 49. However this result did not come without incident. The Patriots were found to have used 11 of 12 under inflated balls by 2 lbs per ball, in what has become known as “Deflate gate.” However anyone who suggests that this was the reason the Colts were blown out sunday simply doesn’t understand football.
The Patriots came out firing on all cylinders on offense and proceeded to run the ball down the Colts’ throats. LeGarrette Blount followed up his 4 touchdown performance in last year’s divisional playoff game against the Colts with another solid performance sunday. The Patriots were in such control of the game that left tackle Nate Solder caught his first career touchdown and the starters were removed from the game midway through the 4th quarter.
The highlight of the night came when star quarterback Tom Brady left the field to a rousing ovation from the Gillette Stadium crowd and was replaced by rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The Patriots were the better team on paper and it showed on the field, no matter how inflated the footballs were.
The inflation level (or lack there of) of the footballs was first discovered when Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson picked off a pass intended for Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski near the end of the first half. According to reports, Jackson noticed the ball felt underinflated and reported it to team officials one the sideline. The issue was reported to game officials at halftime and new footballs were brought out for the second half.
Shortly after being demolished by a much better team, the Colts reported the issue to the league office and commissioner Roger Goodell. The NFL plans to investigate these balls and their use in the game and discipline the Patriots as necessary. If the Patriots are found guilty of “Deflate Gate”, stiff punishment such as loss of draft picks and fines and suspensions for coaches could be forthcoming.
The first issue with this is how the NFL is able to investigate such a thing. The NFL’s protocol for the handling of footballs on the teams’ respective sidelines is very unclear and leaves lots of room for interpretation.
According to NFL rules, all 12 game balls submitted by each team are inspected 2 hours before the game and kept in a bag until kickoff. This raises the question of how the balls could have been tampered with prior to kickoff. Were they deflated either before or during the game by the ball boy? If so how could something like that go unnoticed?
The most important point in this entire story is that the referees switched out the game balls with new ones at halftime. If the under inflated balls were supposed to give the Patriots an edge, wouldn’t it have shown in the first half. At the half the Patriots led by a modest 17-7 score line. The Patriots then came out in the third quarter and promptly scored 21 unanswered points with properly inflated footballs to put the game out of reach. So even if the Patriots used under inflated balls, did they even give them a leg up? The score certainly doesn’t suggest so.
Don’t believe Deflate Gate. The Colts were simply dominated by a better team on Sunday and are looking for any excuse they can possibly find. And even if the Patriots did violate league rules, it clearly had no effect on the outcome of the game.
Jackson Posnik also contributed to this report. Photos courtesy of SI.com