If Deflated Footballs Were New England Patriots' Secret Weapon In AFC Championship Game, Things Will Get Ugly

FOXBORO, UNITED STATES: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (C) takes a hit from Charles Woodson (R) of the Oakland Raiders on a pass attempt in the last two minutes of the game in their AFC playoff 19 January 2002 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots won 16-13 in overtime. AFP PHOTO/Matt CAMPBELL (Photo credit should read MATT CAMPBELL/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: MATT CAMPBELL/AFP/Getty Images

The New England Patriots pretty much destroyed the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game on Sunday, but don't shower them with praise just yet. The New England team has come under scrutiny after officials took one of their footballs out of play midgame to weigh it. Now, the NFL is investigating DeflateGate, which questions whether the Patriots used deflated footballs during the AFC Championship game. Deflating official game balls is a major violation of NFL rules, and if the Patriots are found guilty, they'll face serious consequences.

The final score at Gillette Stadium was a heavily lopsided 45-7, which is definitely a pummeling — but isn't an uncommon feat for the Patriots. Quarterback Tom Brady has one of the most precise throwing arms in the league, ranking him fourth in the NFL overall for the 2014 season. And the Patriots are ranked No. 1 in total offense, with 409.5 yards per game. So why would such an elite team rely on a tactic as deflating the football?

The answer might simply lie in the weather. It rained constantly in Foxborough, Massachusetts on Sunday, which naturally makes it more difficult to grip a football, and a more deflated ball would easier to handle. 

WTHR's Bob Kravitz first reported that one of the Patriots' balls was taken out of circulation and weighed.

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According to the NFL rulebook, balls must be inflated with 12.5-13.5 pounds of air, and every team must provide 12 primary balls to weigh before each game.

Despite the possibility that the Pats may have cheated, many say they were the better team on Sunday regardless. In addition to the three touchdowns that Brady threw, star running back LeGarrette Blount ran in three touchdowns as well. The team's strong running game wouldn't have been helped much by a deflated ball. Not to mention, the Pats defense dominated just as much when the Colts had possession of their own ball, picking off two interceptions from Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.

When Brady first heard about DeflateGate while appearing on WEEI's Dennis and Callahan Show, he let out a hearty laugh. The quarterback then told host Kirk Minihane:

I think I've heard it all [now]. Oh, God. It's ridiculous.... That's the last of my worries. I don't even respond to stuff like this.

It's good you're not feeling stressed right now, Tom, because you have a Super Bowl to play on Feb. 1, but an actual violation of the NFL rules is no laughing matter. If the investigation confirms that the Patriots did in fact deflate their balls for the game, it could cost them valuable draft picks next season. And it wouldn't be the first time the team lost their first-round draft pick.

In 2007, the Pats were punished for spying on the New York Jets coaches on the sidelines, which is now known as SpyGate. Not only did the team forfeit its first-round draft pick in 2008, but head coach Bill Belichick had to pay $500,000 out of his own pocket.

Well, looks like you might be in a similar predicament now, Bill. Maybe you should heed that wise saying that you yourself inspired: You Belichick yourself before you wreck yourself.

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Images: Getty Images (3)

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