Source: Footballs were properly checked before Colts-Patriots game
With 11 of 12 footballs used by the Patriots in Sunday’s AFC title game reportedly underinflated by two pounds per square inch, several questions remain. And here are answers to a couple of them.
First, per a league source, the NFL has reviewed the entire process and determined that the balls were properly checked by the officials before the game. Which means that, when the balls left the possession of the referee, the pressure was at least 12.5 PSI and no more than 13.5 PSI.
Second, as to the fact that the officials didn’t notice anything wrong with the balls while handling them after every play, the source explains that a pressure difference of one or two pounds would not be obvious, if the official is not specifically looking for it.
In this specific case, the NFL indeed became aware of the issue in the first half -- as previously pointed out by Bob Glauber of Newsday. Per the source, the league opted not to stop the game during the first half but to test the balls at halftime, which they did.
Which is when the NFL determined that 11 of the 12 balls were below two pounds below the mandatory minimum PSI of 12.5.
Plenty of other questions remains, but it appears that the NFL has determined that: (1) the balls were properly inspected before the game; and (2) there’s no reason to believe the officials should have noticed anything unusual.