Patriots

Wells investigators: Doesn't matter which gauge was used

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Wells investigators: Doesn't matter which gauge was used

During Tuesday's conference call with Ted Wells and other investigators involved in the Deflategate case, one of the questions asked -- about the gauges used to measure footballs before the AFC title game -- provided a confusing answer.

Because the AFC Championship Game referee Walt Anderson could not pinpoint which gauge he used to measure Patriots game footballs before kickoff, the measurements taken at halftime and provided in the Wells Report were thrown into some question.

How would it be possible to tell just how much footballs deflated during the first half outdoors at Gillette Stadium if it's unclear what the baseline was before the game?

Because there were two different gauges available to Anderson, and because they provided significantly different readings on the same footballs at halftime, it was not necessarily apparent that the deflation seen in the Patriots game balls was due to some inappropriate activity by Patriots employees. 

It could have been science, as Patriots coach Bill Belichick theorized in a press conference during the week following the AFC Championship. Had the Wells Report chosen to focus on the halftime readings of one particular gauge -- the one that provided the higher air-pressure readings -- the inflation levels of eight of the 11 Patriots footballs measured fell in the range that would have been expected according to the Ideal Gas Law. 

When Wells was asked about the gauges during his conference call, he allowed his partner Lorin Reisner to respond.

"The question of which gauge was used by Walt Anderson before the game -- it just doesn’t affect any of the ultimate conclusions," Reisner said. "The difference in the pressure drops between the two teams was found to be statistically significant regardless of the gauge used."

Air-pressure drops between the two teams may have been difficult to gauge because 11 Patriots footballs were measured and only four Colts footballs were measured at halftime that night, but Wells did not hit on the discrepancy in the amount of data available to his team of investigators and how could have affected the numbers. (The Wells Report states that because of time constraints -- the second half was about to begin -- not all Colts footballs could be measured.)

In the Wells Report, Anderson says it was his best recollection that he used the gauge that may have proved Patriots footballs were deflated because of the ideal gas law -- the gauge that provided higher air-pressure readings.

But because he wasn't absolutely certain, and based off of some scientific research conducted as part of the report, Wells found that Anderson had actually used the other gauge. 

Why was it necessary for the Wells team to go to such lengths to show that Anderson used a gauge other than the one he thought he had used? And why, after going to such lengths, would investigators then say that it doesn't matter which gauge was used?

Tuesday's call provided no detailed answers in that regard.

"It really doesn’t matter," Reisner said, "because regardless of which gauges were used, the scientific consultants addressed all the permutations in the analysis."

Brady insists he was throwing it away on back-breaking pick: 'Shouldn't happen'

Brady insists he was throwing it away on back-breaking pick: 'Shouldn't happen'

PITTSBURGH -- You could rattle off Tom Brady mistakes Sunday as if they were freak reindeer.

There was a near-pick on first down and another on a screen. There were overthrows late, and a fadeaway prayer in the face of pressure he thought he'd seen.

And you'll recall the fourth-quarter pick, a heave off his back foot that looked like a desperation shot to Julian Edelman or Rob Gronkowski.

"I was just trying to flick it out of bounds," Brady said. "I didn't want to take the sack. Shouldn't happen."

Brady, whose play in clutch-and-late situations has so often bailed out the Patriots, did not have all the answers in his team's 17-10 loss to the Steelers. He finished 25-for-36 for 279 yards, a touchdown and a back-breaking interception with 7:43 remaining in the game and the Patriots down, 14-10.

STEELERS 17, PATRIOTS 10

It was the second straight week in which a Brady decision wiped points off the board.

Last weekend against the Dolphins a missed touchdown to Chris Hogan was followed up by a sack taken on third down with no timeouts. This time, though pressured by two Steelers, it was his choice to try to throw it away in Edelman's general vicinity. Joe Haden was there in coverage to make the easy interception. 

"They made some plays," Brady said. "We certainly had some opportunity out there and I give them credit because they made important plays when they needed to. But our defense played great. Special teams played great. But we have to do better offensively. Tough loss."

STEELERS 17, PATRIOTS 10

Brady was clearly frustrated when he took the podium after the game and answered questions about Rob Gronkowski's lack of production (two catches for 21 yards on five targets), his team's road struggles, and its first five-loss season since 2009. 

He seemed miffed at the way the Patriots handled the crowd noise (four false-start penalties, including one on the final drive). "I mean, we work on it so much. I don't think that's surprising us." And he didn't really hold back when asked about the three holding penalties his offensive line incurred (including one by Shaq Mason on the final drive). "Obviously there's holding on every play in the NFL. That's what we do. We hold. It's just whether you get called or not . . . I haven't seen them. What do you guys think? Hard to tell? That's how I felt."

When Brady was asked to lead his offense on a game-winning drive, they stalled, stalled again, and ultimately failed. 

Likely hoping to avoid a game-ending pick in the game's final moments, Brady overthrew into the Steelers end zone twice, not giving Gronkowski or anyone else a chance to make a play. On the last play of the game, Brady drifted away from pressure when he didn't really need to -- much like he did on the miss to Hogan in Miami -- and his pass fell incomplete. 

"It's not any one thing," Brady said after. "It's a lot of things collectively."

Over the better part of the last two decades, it's been unusual to lump Brady into that collective mess when things go wrong. But there was no doubt on Sunday that his play was among the issues his team had offensively.

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Game Story: Patriots sloppy in loss to Steelers

Game Story: Patriots sloppy in loss to Steelers

Analysis and post-game sound from the Patriots 17-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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