The NFL-ordered investigation into the Patriots’ deflated footballs from their AFC Championship game against the Colts turned up a few interesting findings: 1. Patriots locker-room attendant Jim McNally has been referring to himself as “The Deflator” for a while now. 2. The Deflator and equipment assistant John Jastremski “were purposely deflating footballs, for Brady’s benefit, to a level beyond the permissible threshold.” 3. “[I]t is more probable than not” that Brady was in on it. (Brady told investigators he didn’t even know McNally’s name, but the report found that claim “not plausible and contradicted by other evidence.”)
There are a few things that Pats fans are saying to dismiss the 243-page report. Some, like owner Robert Kraft, go on about “the science of atmospheric conditions” (which actually doesn’t help their case), but most ask rhetorically whether fully inflated footballs would have changed the results of the AFC Championship game.
That game was a 45-7 blowout, with the Patriots playing better in the second half, after the squishy footballs were discovered and reinflated. That doesn’t actually make it not cheating, but OK, fine. Let’s look instead at the Divisional Round game against the Baltimore Ravens. The Patriots won that game 35-31. And they threw the ball for 408 yards, only running it for 14 yards.
Point being, if they were playing with underinflated footballs in that game (which we can’t know for certain, but there is that rumor that the Ravens tipped off the Colts about issue, plus that one guy calls himself “The Deflator,” so come on) it could have made a big difference.