A year after the New England Patriots were involved in the infamous Deflategate incident with the Indianapolis Colts in the 2015 AFC Championship Game, the team again found itself in the headlines for game ball-related issues.
According to David Wade of WBZ-TV in Boston on Wednesday, state police confirmed the officials for Saturday’s divisional-round game between the Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs left the kicking balls in a Boston hotel. Troopers had to drive the balls to Gillette Stadium so they were there for the game. Scott Zolak of 985 The Sports Hub first reported on the incident Saturday.
Travis Anderson of the Boston Globe noted the officials also forgot the air pressure gauges.
Last year, the Patriots were “accused of illegally letting air out of balls after officials inspected them” in that Colts contest, per Anderson. As a result, the team lost two draft picks, including their 2016 first-rounder, and were fined $1 million. Quarterback Tom Brady was also suspended four games, although a judge overturned the suspension upon appeal.
As for Saturday's Patriots and Chiefs game, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told Anderson in an email, “There were no issues with the footballs used in the game.”
New England ultimately won, 27-20, and clinched a spot in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Denver Broncos. The kickers didn’t seem to be bothered by the kicking balls either, considering New England’s Stephen Gostkowski and Kansas City’s Cairo Santos combined to go 4-of-4 on field goals and 5-of-5 on extra points.
Now the Patriots will see if they can get past the Broncos and the NFC representative in the Super Bowl without air pressure gauges and game balls becoming a topic of conversation again.