Kicking Ball Controversy Strikes Patriots vs. Chiefs Game Amid Underinflation Speculation
In Sunday’s high-profile game between the Patriots and Chiefs, both teams encountered issues with missed field goals during the first half at Foxborough, sparking speculation reminiscent of past controversies.
Reports emerged suggesting a potential recurrence of the infamous “DeflateGate” scandal, almost a decade later, as Gillette Stadium allegedly became the scene of another game tainted by underinflated footballs. According to Mark Daniels from MassLive, the kicking balls utilized by both teams in the game’s initial half were purportedly underinflated by up to two pounds per square inch (PSI).
The concerns came to light after Patriots kicker Chad Ryland and Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker missed field goals in the early stages of the game, prompting officials to inspect the footballs during halftime. Sources disclosed to Daniels that the measured weight of these balls was only 11 pounds, significantly below the legal limit of 13.5 pounds.
The Patriots reportedly grew suspicious when Butker’s opening kickoff landed at the 3-yard line, deviating from his usual kickoff success rate of touchbacks, while his subsequent missed field goal in the first quarter was an anomaly after 23 successful attempts this season.
Daniels highlighted observations from the Patriots’ camp, noting a noticeable difference in the trajectory and hang time of kicks and punts, along with a distinct softness in the feel of the kicking balls throughout the first half.
Despite Ryland’s uneven performance during the season, sources mentioned to Daniels that the rookie kicker’s mechanics seemed adequate during his field-goal attempt.
"A source said the Patriots rookie’s mechanics were good on the attempt, but the flight of the ball was off."— Chris Mason (@ByChrisMason) December 20, 2023
Here's the Chad Ryland kick in question: https://t.co/alS6VxvC3Y pic.twitter.com/PPc66j4AMh