Echoes of 'Deflategate' as Chiefs-Patriots is impacted by under-inflated footballs

The New England Patriots were once again involved in a game using under-inflated footballs.

Bryce Baringer, Chad Ryland, New England Patriots
Bryce Baringer, Chad Ryland, New England Patriots / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

We all remember 'Deflategate.' Few stories rocked the NFL harder. The New England Patriots, a prestige franchise helmed by the greatest QB-coach combination of modern history, were accused of purposefully under-inflating footballs to benefit Tom Brady and the offense. It was a proper cheating scandal, involving league-mandated punishment and severe judgment in the court of public opinion.

The Patriots have since washed their hands of that controversy, but lo and behold, we are back — sort of.

According to a new report from Mark Daniels of MassLive, the Patriots' Sunday home match against the Kansas City Chiefs was marred by under-inflated footballs. This time, however, it negatively impacted both sides and would appear to be a complete accident.

"Following their loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, Patriots special teamers were visibly upset in the locker room on Sunday due to an error by the officiating staff. According to multiple sources, the footballs that are meant for each team’s kicking units were underinflated by two pounds"

Patriots-Chiefs impacted by under-inflated kicking footballs

New England and Kansas City were subject to under-inflated kicking footballs in the first half of the Chiefs' 27-17 victory. When measured at halftime, the so-called "K-Balls" were measured at 11 PSI, rather than the legal limit of 13.5 PSI.

Both kickers were impacted. New England's Chad Ryland and Kansas City's Harrison Butker both missed field goals in the first half. For Butker, it was his first missed field goal of the season. He was 23-for-23 prior to Sunday's cold-weather matchup. When the defect was discovered at halftime, the issue was resolved and footballs traveled further in the second half.

It would appear this was a simple, if costly mistake. Unlike the original 'Deflategate' scandal, the Patriots were negatively impacted, too. Neither team gained an advantage. Per the MassLive report, multiple New England specialists were upset in the locker room post-game.

"In the end, Patriots special teamers were upset with the conditions of the kicking balls. In a season that’s been tough in Foxborough, the last thing anyone wanted was to feel like they couldn’t properly do their job because of someone else’s mistake."

Punts traveled an average of 45.3 yards in the first half, compared to 51.8 yards in the second half. A source told MassLive that Chad Ryland's mechanics were solid on his missed 41-yard field goal in the first half, but the ball's flight path was off.

It's unclear whether or not New England will face punishment for this. Officials are supposed to weigh footballs before the game, but it would appear a step in the process was missed.

"I don’t know at what point it was missed. I don’t think they were leaking. It was a situation and it got mitigated in the second half.”

New England fell to 3-11 with the loss. The Chiefs, meanwhile, are 9-5. The game ended with the expected outcome, but it's impossible to deny the impact of this mistake. Points were left off the board in the first half. Kickoffs were returned, rather than soaring into the end zone. Punts came up short. That impacts field position, offensive play-calling, defense — all of it.

We can expect officials to double or triple-check PSI before the Patriots' next game.

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