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New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Saturday that an internal study into whether the team had knowledge of using under-inflated footballs in Sunday's AFC Championship game showed they "followed every rule." During an impromptu news conference, Belichick said he took part in an investigation that simulated the conditions of the game against the Indianapolis Colts, when the Patriots won 45-7 and clinched a Super Bowl spot.
But NFL investigators said Friday that under-inflated pigskins were in fact used by the Patriots during the game, arguably making the balls easier to throw and catch. A day earlier, Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady held separate news conferences saying they didn't realize the balls were under-inflated. Belichick on Saturday again struck back at critics: "I believe now 100 percent that I personally, and we as an organization, have followed every rule to the letter."
In the Patriots' simulation, officials were asked to inflate the balls to 12.5 pounds per square inch (PSI) — as they had been asked prior to the game, Belichick said. But "once the footballs were on the field over an extended period of time," they had lost 1.5 pounds of pressure, he added. He blamed the pressure loss as being a "function of the atmospheric conditions."
Belichick also said a number of players couldn't tell the difference between balls that were inflated at 12.5 PSI or 11.5 PSI. The investigation indicated that "at no time was there any intent whatsoever to try to compromise the integrity of the game," Belichick said, adding that he was "not a scientist" or an "expert in footballs."
Belichick said that while the team would welcome the final results of the league's investigation, he had spent more time focusing on the "Deflategate" scandal this past week instead of preparing for the Super Bowl — his sixth as the Pats' head coach. The team will play the defending champs, the Seattle Seahawks, on Feb. 1. "This is the end of this subject for me for a long time," Belichick said.