Belichick Claims Underinflated Kicking Footballs in Patriots' Loss to Chiefs

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick reveals that the kicking footballs used in the first half of the Patriots' loss to the Kansas City Chiefs were underinflated.


Belichick's Statement

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick admitted that the kicking footballs used during the first half of their 27-17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs were underinflated by 2, 2½ pounds. He stated that the team was aware of the issue but had no control over it. Belichick deferred to the NFL for an explanation of why both teams had underinflated footballs.

"We don't have anything to do with it. Were we aware of it? Yeah, definitely," Belichick said. "As I understand it, they were all the same. I don't know what the explanation is. It was the same for both teams. You'd have to talk to the league about what happened on that. That part of it, they control all that."

League Rules and Referee

According to league rules, kicking footballs should be between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch. Referee Shawn Hochuli's crew, in its 10th season working NFL games, was responsible for ensuring the proper inflation of the footballs. However, a spokesperson for the NFL declined to comment on the underinflated footballs.

Belichick pointed out that missed field goals by both teams and two kickoffs that nearly went out of bounds were evident examples of how the underinflated footballs affected the game.

Players' Reactions

Patriots players privately expressed their disappointment over the underinflation of the footballs, but acknowledged that it affected both teams equally. Chad Ryland, the Patriots' rookie kicker, was visibly frustrated in the locker room after the game. Kansas City's Harrison Butker, who had a 39-yard field goal miss, believed his miss was due to technique rather than the air pressure in the football.

Butker, who has made all 23 of his field goal attempts prior to the game, stated that he couldn't tell the footballs were underinflated. He mentioned that officials informed him at halftime that the balls were slightly deflated and that they were pumped up accordingly. The inflation level of footballs became a major NFL story when the Patriots were fined and penalized for using improperly inflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game of 2015.