A recent report from Sports Illustrated on Wednesday night has raised concerns about the inflation levels of footballs during Sunday’s game between the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs. Accusations have emerged that the officiating crew failed to properly inflate the kicking balls before the game, impacting both teams in the first half.

Issues with inflation levels were initially observed on the opening kickoff, fielded at the 3-yard line by Patriots returner Jalen Reagor. The problem persisted throughout the first half, affecting missed field goal attempts on both sides.

Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker, previously perfect on 23-of-23 field goal attempts, missed a 39-yard try despite unremarkable wind conditions. Patriots rookie kicker Chad Ryland also missed a 41-yard attempt, with the underinflated ball appearing to contribute to the miss.

Post-game, members of the Patriots special teams operation expressed visible frustration, linking it to the officiating crew’s mishandling of the balls pre-game.

According to NFL rules, footballs must be inflated to a level between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch (PSI). Kicking balls, treated differently from offensive footballs, arrive in pristine condition and are marked accordingly. Officials are responsible for ensuring proper inflation, and teams cannot work with these balls during warmups.

Following complaints from the teams, the inflation level in each kicking ball was increased from around 11 to the legal limit of 13.5 PSI at halftime. The second half reportedly saw no apparent problems, with successful field goals, extra point attempts, and improved hang times and travel distances on punts.

Notably, similar issues with ball inflation arose at Gillette Stadium during the AFC Championship Game in January 2015. The incident, known as Deflategate, led to an investigation and penalties for the Patriots, although subsequent analysis suggested natural deflation due to weather conditions.

While the Patriots won the AFC title game and Super Bowl XLIX in 2015 despite Deflategate’s media attention, their recent game against the Chiefs ended in a 27-17 loss, dropping their record to 3-11 for the year.



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