Did Spygate Really Give the Patriots an Advantage?

Nick SignorelliSenior Writer IJuly 1, 2009

PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 25:  Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots shakes hands with head coach Bill Cowher of the Pittsburgh Steelers following the game at Heinz Field on September 25, 2005 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pats defeated the Steelers 23-20.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

There was a recent article by fellow Steelers writer David Klingler, stating that the Patriots are the team of the decade, regardless of what happens this year.  In the comments, once again, the Patriots and Steelers fans are debating on who it really is.

Steelers fans claim that because of spygate, the Patriots don't deserve it.

Patriots fans are quick to dismiss any notion of this because spygate was not really important.  As Patriots fans say, "every team" does it.

What the real question is, to me at least, did spygate really give the Patriots an unfair advantage?

Lets actually look at a couple of games and decide if spygate should even be talked about any more.

In 2001, the Patriots were coming off a fifth place finish in the AFC East.  They were not expected to be Super Bowl contenders.

In the second game of the season, Drew Bledsoe was lost to injury, and in comes second-year player Tom Brady.

A kid from Michigan that was taken in the sixth round, and did not look anything like the part of a Hall of Fame player.  He was skinny, looked out of shape, and no NFL team thought that he was worthy of being drafted in the first five rounds.

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The Patriots turn things around, and qualify as the second seed for the playoffs.

Is it possible that a second year player, drafted in the sixth round, with no game experience, could lead his team, on his own, to the second seed from one of the worst?

Could knowing the defensive signals have had any input in his progression?

The Patriots hosted the Oakland Raiders in a snow storm. The game was won on an overtime field goal, sending the Patriots to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers.

I am not going to say, for one second, anything negative about the call that resulted in the tuck rule.  It is a rule that is on the books, and the call that was made was correct.

But, knowing the defensive signals, would the game have gone into overtime if they didn't?  Does anyone else find it funny that ALL of the Patriots points were scored in the second half of the game.  After halftime adjustments were made?

Had the Patriots not won that game, they obviously would not have won that Super Bowl.

Part of the spygate issue was the video taping of the Rams' walkthrough practice prior to the Super Bowl.

After much speculation, the man that was in charge of videotaping for the Patriots, Matt Walsh, told the NFL that there was no videotaping that happened, but that himself, and other members of the Patriots staff, did witness the walkthrough of the Rams.

Did they take notes?  What were they watching?  Why were they watching?

Halfway through the second quarter, Ty Law intercepted a pass from Kurt Warner and returned it for the games first touchdown.

At the end of the first half, Tom Brady led the Patriots on a 60-yard scoring drive, that gave the Pats a 14-3 lead at half time.

Because of the formation, did Ty Law have some idea what play was being run?  Was that information known from what was watched by Mr. Walsh?

Did the Patriots have some idea of what the Rams were doing that made Brady be able to drive the field, when he had not been able to prior to that?

New England won by three.

Since it has been admitted that there was taping, then if any of the above mentioned plays were the result of "spying" then the Patriots would not have been the Super Bowl Champions.

2002 the Patriots do not make the playoffs.

Super Bowl XXXVIII.

The New England Patriots were playing the Carolina Panthers.  With just under four minutes to go in the third quarter, the Patriots took over and had an eight play, 71 yard drive that led in a score.

In the last 1:08 of the game, Tom Brady went 5-5, not counting the offensive pass interference call, that led the Patriots to the victory.

Was it possible that any of the plays at that crucial drive Brady knew what the defense was doing?


New England took a 21-game winning streak into Pittsburgh to take on Big Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers in week seven.

The rookie and the Steelers took the Patriots apart, 34-20.  The Steelers defense held the Patriots to 3-9 on third downs.  The Patriots were held to 248 yards of total offense, and only five rushing yards.

In the AFC Championship game, also in Pittsburgh, things were quite different.

The Patriots picked the Steelers defense apart, to the tune of 41 points.  Forget the fact that Pittsburgh was the No. 1 defense in the NFL that year—No. 4 against the pass, and No. 1 against the run.

Could it be that the Patriots were just so much better that day?  Or could they have know what Pittsburgh was doing?

With all the speculation over what happened in the first part of this decade, if Pittsburgh wins the Super Bowl this year, both the Steelers and the Patriots will be tied with three Super Bowls each.

After really looking at the situations, is it not only possible, but probably, that had New England not cheated, that they may not have even won ONE Super Bowl?  Had the Patriots not cheated, Pittsburgh may have had four right now.

The fact is, the NFL has punished the Patriots not only a first round pick, but Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 and Robert Kraft was fined an additional $250,000.

These punishments are the most severe penalties ever leveled against a team, or a coach ever.

The NFL acknowledges that this happened, and that they destroyed the evidence so that a class action suite that was going to be filed by New York Jets fans could go no further.

What the New England Patriots have done is make a joke out of the game.  I wrote a slide show declaring New England as the best team of the decade.  After doing this research, I have changed my mind.

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