The New England Patriots are Super Bowl bound after crushing the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 in Sunday night's AFC Championship game, but a new report is calling into question the integrity of that victory.
Soon after the game, Bob Kravitz of WTHR Indianapolis tweeted that the NFL was investigating the possible use of deflated footballs by the Patriots:
A deflated ball could be easier to throw, especially in rainy conditions like those in the Patriots-Colts face-off.
The NFL source reportedly told Kravitz that "officials took a ball out of play at one point and weighed it."
According to NBC Sports, "several" abnormal balls were allegedly removed from gameplay during the match-up.
Bob Glauber of New York Newsday later confirmed that an NFL investigation into the matter is underway:
According to Newsday, the Patriots could face a potential fine or a draft penalty if it turns out that they did use deflated balls, though they would likely retain their win. WTHR's Kravitz tweeted similar information about draft picks on Sunday night:
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady responded to the allegations in question during a Monday morning appearance on WEEI Boston sports radio, calling the reports "ridiculous":
Brady said he was not aware of the report, claiming, "I have no idea" what the controversy was about.
"I think I've heard it all at this point," he said with a laugh.
Added Brady: "That's the last of my worries. I don't even respond to stuff like this."
The Patriots infamously landed in hot water for the 2007 "Spygate" scandal in which the team videotaped the signals of New York Jets defensive coaches. The violation led to a record $500,000 fine for head coach Bill Belichick among other penalties.
Despite the NFL probe, the show must go on. The Patriots are set to face the NFC champion Seattle Seahawks on February 1st in Super Bowl XLIX.