"Deflategate" isn't the first time the New England Patriots have been accused of cheating. From "Spygate" to "Deflategate," here's a look at the instances when the Pats have allegedly broken the rules.
1982: Snowplow game vs. Dolphins
It’s only more recently that the Patriots have become the bad boys of the NFL, but their alleged cheating dates to December 1982 against the Dolphins. It was a typical December day in Foxborough: cold and snowy. The weather contributed to a scoreless three quarters. Late in the game, the stadium’s snowplow driver, Mark Henderson, a work-release convict, went out on the field and cleared a spot for John Smith to kick the game-winning field goal. Then-Dolphins head coach Don Shula later referred to it as the “most unfair act” in NFL history. The league banned snowplow use on the field the following season.
2002: Marshall Faulk accused the Patriots of cheating in Super Bowl XXXVI
It’s been 13 years since the Patriots beat the Rams in the Super Bowl, but former Rams running back Marshall Faulk maintains the Patriots only won because they cheated.
“I know, in that game, in the red zone, the plays we ran, most of them we hadn’t ran most of those plays that year,” Faulk told Comcast Sports Net in a 2013 interview. “And a couple of plays on third down that we walked through also . . . Any time that I was offset, I was always stationary. And we had [created] motioning in the backfield at the same depth on the other side of the field. And they created a check for it. It’s just little things like that. It’s either the best coaching in the world when you come up with situations that you had never seen before. Or you’d seen it and knew what to do.”
There’s no evidence the Patriots illegally filmed the Rams’ walkthrough before the Super Bowl.
The Patriots entered the 2007 season with three Super Bowl titles in six years. But in Week 1 they tainted their so-called dynasty when a Patriots staff member was caught filming signals from the Jets coaches in their 38-14 win. The Jets’ head coach at the time was Eric Mangini, who was the Patriots’ defensive coordinator two seasons earlier. A week later, first-year NFL commissioner Roger Goodell fined the Patriots $250,000 and stripped them of their 2008 first-round draft pick. Bill Belichick was fined $500,000, the largest amount an NFL coach had ever been fined. It later was discovered that the Patriots had been illegally filming their opponents from 2002 to 2007.
2015: 'Illegal' formation vs. Ravens
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh accused the Patriots of using an illegal formation when Shane Vereen lined up as an ineligible slot receiver. The Pats used this formation on three separate plays that eventually led to a touchdown in a closely contested 35-31 win for New England in the AFC Divisional round of the playoffs. While the formation wasn’t illegal at the time, the NFL passed a rule this offseason that makes it illegal for ineligible receivers to line up outside the tackle box. Going forward, if a player were to line up outside the tackle box as an ineligible receiver, the offense would be penalized five yards for an illegal substitution.
The Deflategate controversy was a black cloud on Super Bowl week. The Colts accused the Patriots of underinflating their footballs after a 45-7 loss in the AFC Championship game, and the scandal dominated headlines in the two weeks leading up to Super Bowl XLIX against the Seahawks, which the Patriots won, 28-24. Following an investigation, the NFL found that 11 of the Patriots’ 12 balls were under the minimum 12.5 pounds per square inch. In a 243-page report from attorney Ted Wells released on May 6, the league concluded that Patriots employees probably deflated the footballs and Tom Brady was “at least generally aware” of the situation. Patriots owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick weren’t implicated in the report.