Footballs, which are weighed before the game, must be inflated to no less than 12.5 pounds per square inch. A deflated ball could be easier for the quarterback to grip in bad weather, like in Sunday's rain at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Quarterback Tom Brady led the team 45-7 against the Colts Sunday, leading to the Pats' eighth Super Bowl appearance in the franchise's history.
Here are five things to know about the NFL's ball rules, according to the NFL Game Operations manual:
1. Home and visiting teams should have 12 new Wilson Official NFL Footballs for referees to check before the game. Home clubs should have 12 extra balls as backup and visiting teams can provide 12 additional balls at their discretion.
2. Footballs should never be placed on or inside heated benches or in front of heaters.
3. Wilson Sporting Goods gives instructions to equipment managers for proper ball preparation, including brushing the balls and wiping them down with a damp towel.
4. Extra footballs are in ball bags during the game and put near the on-field instant replay monitor.
5. Anyone who alters the inflation of a ball faces a $25,000 fine.
Besides the NFL, "deflate-gate" has also hit college football teams. Former University of Southern California head coach Lane Kiffin was accused of deflating footballs for a game against the University of Oregon Ducks in 2012 before losing his job during that season.