Once again, the New England Patriots find themselves embroiled in an NFL controversy, this time concerning underinflated footballs.
According to Mark Daniels of Mass Live, it was found that the footballs used for kicks during the Kansas City Chiefs’ 27-17 victory over the Patriots at Gillette Stadium were underinflated by approximately two pounds. The first indication of a problem arose when the opening kick landed at the 3-yard line, which is highly unusual in today’s game, especially considering that Butker’s kicks have resulted in touchbacks 87.1% of the time this season.
New England’s Chad Ryland did, however, miss a 41-yard attempt in the first quarter. Nevertheless, he redeemed himself by successfully making both of his extra point attempts, along with a 25-yard field goal in the second quarter. It is worth mentioning that Ryland’s accuracy hasn’t been the strongest this season, as he currently ranks 32nd in the NFL with a 65% success rate.
Kansas City’s Harrison Butker, on the other hand, has been performing exceptionally well, boasting a high ranking of fourth in the NFL with an impressive success rate of 96.4%. It is worth noting, however, that even he had a rare miss at Gillette Stadium in Week 15. Despite the kick being from a relatively short distance of 39 yards, something that is typically no trouble for the two-time Super Bowl champion.
After receiving numerous complaints from teams, officials decided to investigate the issue during halftime. They took the kicking footballs, also known as ‘K-Balls’, indoors for a closer evaluation. It was during this inspection that league officials realized they had made a mistake. The footballs were found to weigh only 11 pounds instead of the required 13.5 pounds mandated by the NFL.
After the halftime break, the footballs were properly inflated to their required PSI. Interestingly, players observed that the footballs were traveling further after this adjustment. It is important to note that there is a margin of error allowed for the weight of footballs in NFL games, with officials aiming to keep the pressure between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch. However, they are also instructed to weigh each ball before the start of the game.
In the first half, kickoffs had an average distance of 64.4 yards per kick. However, the second half saw an increase in the average kickoff distance to 66.6 yards. Similarly, punts experienced a significant improvement, with the average distance going from 45.3 yards in the first half to 51.8 yards in the second half.
Multiple Patriots special teams players were visibly upset following the team’s latest loss, despite it being just a 10-point game. Their frustration stemmed from a factor that was completely out of their control.
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