When you win as consistently as the New England Patriots have over the last two decades it’s bound to draw some skeptics ... or suspicion.
Conspiracies/scandals/accusations against the Patriots are nothing new. The team has been accused and in some cases penalized by the league for supposedly deflating footballs to gain a weather advantage; using deceptive formations to confuse defenses; filming an opponent’s play signals and practices; and intentionally snowplowing a spot on the field to help a kicker.
Pats fans just shrug. Bill Belichick does. But Internet sleuths are out to prove advantage are stacked in favor of the Pats. There’s even one brewing for this year’s game in Atlanta:
• What/When: Prior to the 2008 Super Bowl, Tom Brady was seen with a boot protecting his presumably injured right foot. His ailment was not listed on an injury report and he sidestepped questions about a pronounce limp leading up to the game.
Brady’s wife, model Gisele Bundchen, states in May 2017 that the Patriots quarterback “had a concussion last year.” Brady himself did not dispute his wife’s statement. The Patriots, however, never listed Brady on official injury lists as having a concussion or concussion symptoms.
• How: The New England Patriots notoriously listed players as questionable on a weekly basis. In 2015, New England listed 14 players as questionable in the final week of the season. Two former Patriots say the team put false information about them on official injury reports.
• Result: In both occasions, Brady and the Pats lost in the Super Bowl. While not directly citing the Patriots, the NFL rules committee eliminated the “probable” designation on the injury report in 2016. Teams now list players as questionable (uncertain as to whether the player will play in the game), doubtful (unlikely the player will participate) and out (will not play).
The OT ‘touchdown’
• What/When: The Patriots met the Falcons in Super Bowl 51 in Houston in 2017. The Patriots pulled a miraculous comeback from 28-3 to force overtime. (And it still stings.)
• How: On second-and-goal in the extra period, Patriots running back James White reaches the end zone on a 2-yard run. Or did he?
• The result: The defender’s right leg obscures the ball (what you see is White’s arm), but because it was ruled a touchdown on the field made it difficult for the ruling to be overturned. Patriots win 34-28. It was the Patriots’ first Super Bowl appearance following a league ruling over Deflategate.
Not everyone believes the play defined the result.
Few flags. Refs celebrate
• What/When: In the 2017 AFC Championship game against the Jacksonville Jaguars,
• How: The Patriots drew one penalty, 10 yards, on a hold during a kickoff. The Jaguars were flagged six times for 98 yards. Seems rare, right?
One of the Jaguars’ penalties was a pass interference call on an uncatchable pass from Tom Brady to Brandin Cooks. The 32-yard penalty set up a New England touchdown.
What feeds the conspiracy? The Jaguars had only been had been flagged for defensive pass interference five times in the regular season.
And then there’s the refs celebrating with the Pats:
• The result: The Patriots rally for a 24-20 win for a trip to the Super Bowl, where they lost to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Of course, these could all just be coincidences — lucky bounces — paranoia, and the Pats are just that good.
Is Super Bowl 53 rigged?
• What/When: A year before it was played the question of whether Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta is rigged was recorded in Quora.
• How: Officials have been highly criticized this postseason. (See Rams-Saints.) Sports Illustrated says the crew for Super Bowl 53 is already feeling the glare, particularly lead official John Parry. The Patriots were 6-0 in games officiated by Parry, until the Super Bowl loss to the Giants in 2012. They remain 9-5 in 14 games with Parry as the head official, that includes a 17-10 loss to Pittsburgh in Week 15 this season.
Since 2007, he has officiated in seven games featuring the Rams, all won by L.A. — including the Rams’ Wild Card win over Dallas.
• Result: So what’s going to happen? The officials are going to push the win for the ...
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