Giants measured Steelers footballs at 11.4, 11.8 PSI
No, the Giants did not make a “formal complaint” about the Steelers using underinflated footballs last Sunday. Yes, the Giants alerted the league office to the team’s belief that two of the footballs recovered via turnovers were measured below the 12.5 PSI minimum.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, one ball was measured at 11.4 PSI and the other ball was measured at 11.8 PSI.
Both turnovers came in the second half. The Giants recovered a fumble with 7:12 to play in the third quarter and intercepted a pass with 44 seconds left in the third quarter.
The broader question becomes the expected PSI levels of the footballs when they were measured by the Giants, based on the pregame inflation of the footballs (they could have been as low as 12.5 before being brought to the field), the temperature at kickoff and, in turn, the pressure loss in the first half, the pressure increase when the balls were taken back inside during the 12-minute intermission (which necessarily is limited by the trip to the officials’ locker room and the trip back outside), the pressure decrease in the third quarter before the Giants acquired possession of the footballs, and the delay between the end of the plays that resulted in the Giants getting the balls and the measurement of the balls by the Giants.
Throw in the possibility that the Giants air-pressure gauges reveal conflicting numbers than the official gauges, and it becomes impossible to conclude that PSIs of 11.8 and 11.4 suggest deliberate deflation.
Look for the league to continue to say nothing, even if there’s a reasonable explanation for the footballs being under 12.5 PSI. The NFL wisely has avoided disclosing that footballs have been measured below 12.5 PSI during spot checks in cold-weather games, presumably to prevent the disclosure of any evidence that would suggest that the numbers observed at halftime of the January 2015 AFC title game indicate the normal operation of science and not foul play.