Deflated balls latest in Belichick's reputation for guile

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Do You Believe Belichick?


Add underinflated footballs to the list of incidents giving Bill Belichick a reputation for guile and playing above the rules.

Softer footballs wouldn't explain all of a rout that earned the New England Patriots a spot in the Super Bowl. But it's another example of Belichick's reputation of searching for edges and bending any rules until he gets caught.

Vague injury reports. Spygate. Signing players with intel on opponents. And now, an open NFL investigation into whether the team cheated during its AFC championship win.

"Because it's the Patriots and they have a history, that brings in a different issue," former All-Pro running back Jerome Bettis said on ESPN. "There's some type of culture there that's conducive to cheating and that's a problem."

Team officials on Wednesday did not respond to a request for comment from Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady or team owner Robert Kraft.

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Deflategate scandal - Tom Brady - Bill Belichick - Patriots - Football - NFL
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Deflated balls latest in Belichick's reputation for guile
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 31: Quarterback Tom Brady of the New England Patriots leaves federal court after contesting his four game suspension with the NFL on August 31, 2015 in New York City. U.S. District Judge Richard Berman had required NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Brady to be present in court when the NFL and NFL Players Association reconvened their dispute over Brady's four-game Deflategate suspension. The two sides failed to reach an agreement to their seven-month standoff. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady leaves Federal court, in New York, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. Last-minute settlement talks between lawyers for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady have failed, leaving a judge to decide the fate of "Deflategate." (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
This image of the first page of a court document released by the U.S. District Court Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015, shows Judge Richard M. Berman's decision to overturn NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's four-game suspension of New England quarterback Tom Brady. (U.S. District Court of New York via AP)
This image of a portion of the last page of a court document released by the U.S. District Court Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015, shows Judge Richard M. Berman's decision to overturn NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's four-game suspension of New England quarterback Tom Brady. (U.S. District Court of New York via AP)
FILE - In this April 31, 2015, file photo, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady leaves Federal court in New York. Brady can suit up for his team's season opener after a judge erased his four-game suspension for "Deflategate." (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 22: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots participates in warmups prior to a preseason game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 22, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 12: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady leaves federal court after appealing the National Football League's (NFL) decision to suspend him for four games of the 2015 season on August 12, 2015 in New York City. The NFL alleges that Brady knew footballs used in one of last season's games was deflated below league standards, making it easier to handle. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell leaves the Federal District Courthouse August 12, 2015 in New York. Brady and NFL. Goodell and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady met with Judge Richard M. Berman who questioned both sides about Bradys four-game suspension for his role in the 'deflate-gate' scandal after the NFL decided Brady was aware that the balls were deflated in the first half of the Super Bowl final in January 2015. AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 28: A fan taunts Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots as he takes the field during their preseason NFL game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on August 28, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 12: New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady arrives at federal court to appeal the National Football League's (NFL) decision to suspend him for four games of the 2015 season on August 12, 2015 in New York City. The NFL alleges that Brady knew footballs used in one of last season's games was deflated below league standards, making it easier to handle. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 13: A fan holds a 'Free Brady' sign in the crowd referencing Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots during a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers at Gillette Stadium on August 13, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
A group of people wearing 'Deflategate' hats wait outside federal court during a conference meeting between New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and U.S. District Judge Richard Berman in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015. Berman seems intent on getting a settlement of a dispute over Brady's four-game suspension for his role in using underinflated game balls -- in what's come to be known as Deflategate. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 12: New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady arrives at federal court to appeal the National Football League's (NFL) decision to suspend him for four games of the 2015 season on August 12, 2015 in New York City. The NFL alleges that Brady knew footballs used in one of last season's games was deflated below league standards, making it easier to handle. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
FILE - In this June 23, 2015, file photo, New England Patriot's quarterback Tom Brady arrives for his appeal hearing at NFL headquarters in New York. The NFL Players Union has sued to get a judge to void NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's four-game suspension of Brady in the "Deflategate" scandal, setting the stage for the spectacle of the pair having to appear on Wednesday Aug. 12, 2015, in the same New York courtroom. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell arrives at federal court, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, in New York. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Goodell are set to explain to a judge why a controversy over underinflated footballs at last season's AFC conference championship game is spilling into a new season.(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady wipes the sweat from his head during an NFL football training camp in Foxborough, Mass., Thursday, July 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
FOXBORO, MA - MAY 24: Ryan Desilets and Jon Harmon both from Milford, Massachusetts, show support for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady at the 'Free Tom Brady' rally at Gillette Stadium on May 24, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The rally was held in protest of Brady's four game suspension for his role in the 'deflategate' scandal. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady gestures during an event at Salem State University in Salem, Mass., Thursday, May 7, 2015. An NFL investigation has found that New England Patriots employees likely deflated footballs and that quarterback Tom Brady was "at least generally aware" of the rules violations. The 243-page report released Wednesday, May 6, 2015, said league investigators found no evidence that coach Bill Belichick and team management knew of the practice. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, Pool)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 22: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady speaks to the media at a press conference at Gillette Stadium about the under-inflated footballs used in the AFC Championship Game. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
PHOENIX - JANUARY 27: The annual 'Media Day' for the Super Bowl was held at the US Airways Arena in downtown Phoenix. Players and coaches from first the New England Patriots, then the Seattle Seahawks, spent over an hour taking questions from the media. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looked unusually upbeat as he listened to a question. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Baden Sports researcher director Hugh Tompkins shows an air pressure gauge reading for a football used in a demonstration in Renton, Wash., Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. Former NFL quarterback Hugh Millen, who now helps design footballs for Baden, says quarterbacks prefer footballs with less air because of better grip and faster throws. (AP Photos/Manuel Valdes)
Behind the scenes: Making the Super Bowl XLIX footballs! #SB49 đź“·: Rick Osentoski/AP
Making of the @SuperBowl XLIX footballs [PHOTOS]: http://t.co/qayPQfqt0A #SB49 http://t.co/0dQRKYgClH
New England Patriots football head coach Bill Belichick speaks during an NFL football news conference at Gillette Stadium, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Foxborough, Mass., where he defended the way his team preps its game balls. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 22: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady speaks to the media at a press conference at Gillette Stadium about the under-inflated footballs used in the AFC Championship Game. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Former NFL quarterback Hugh Millen throws a football at Baden Sports headquarters in Renton, Wash., Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. Millen says many quarterbacks prefer footballs with less air because of better grip and faster throws. (AP Photos/Manuel Valdes)
Baden Sports researcher director Hugh Tompkins shows footballs with different air pressures to be used in a demonstration, in Renton, Wash., Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. Former NFL quarterback Hugh Millen, who now helps design footballs for Baden, says quarterbacks prefer footballs with less air because of better grip and faster throws. (AP Photos/Manuel Valdes)
FILE - In this photo taken Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throws a pass during the first half of the AFC championship NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Foxborough, Mass. The NFL said Friday, Jan. 3, 2015, that evidence shows the Patriots used underinflated footballs during the first half of the AFC championship game. The investigation is still ongoing they added, and with no conclusions and no timetable for resolving the cheating accusations with the Super Bowl nine days away. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady faces members of the media at a news conference in Foxborough, Mass., Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. Brady said Thursday that he did not know how New England ended up using underinflated balls in its win Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, second from left, steps into a news conference in Foxborough, Mass., Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. Brady said Thursday that he did not know how New England ended up using underinflated balls in its win Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady speaks at a news conference in Foxborough, Mass., Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. Brady said Thursday that he did not know how New England ended up using underinflated balls in its win Sunday against the Colts in the AFC Championship game. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady steps away from a news conference in Foxborough, Mass., Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. Brady said Thursday that he did not know how New England ended up using underinflated balls in its win Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 22: New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick speaks to the media on January 22, 2015 on issues surrounding under-inflated footballs used during the AFC Championship Game. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 22: New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick spoke to the media on January 22, 2015 on issues surrounding under-inflated footballs used during the AFC Championship Game. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 22: New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick speaks to the media on January 22, 2015 on issues surrounding under-inflated footballs used during the AFC Championship Game. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reacts during a news conference prior to a team practice in Foxborough, Mass., Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. Belichick addressed the issue of the NFL investigation of deflated footballs. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, right, faces members of the media during a news conference prior to a team practice in Foxborough, Mass., Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick speaks during a news conference prior to a team practice in Foxborough, Mass., Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, right, faces members of the media during a news conference prior to a team practice in Foxborough, Mass., Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick walks from the podium after a news conference prior to a team practice in Foxborough, Mass., Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. Belichick addressed the issue of the NFL investigation into deflated footballs. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 26: A fan holds a sign referencing 'deflate-gate,' the under inflation of footballs used by the Patriots during the AFC Championship game, during the New England Patriots Send-Off Rally at City Hall Plaza on January 26, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Patriots will face the Seattle Seahawks in Superbowl XLIX on Sunday. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick holds the championship trophy after the NFL football AFC Championship game Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015, in Foxborough, Mass. The Patriots defeated the Colts 45-7 to advance to the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, left, speaks with Bill Belichick after the NFL football AFC Championship game Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015, in Foxborough, Mass. The Patriots defeated the Colts 45-7 to advance to the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 18: Umpire Carl Paganelli #124 holds a ball on the field after a play during the 2015 AFC Championship Game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium on January 18, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. It was reported on January 19, 20015 that the league is looking into the apparent use of deflated footballs by the New England Patriots during their game. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
In this Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015, photo New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has a ball tossed to him during warmups before the NFL football AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts in Foxborough, Mass. The NFL says its investigation into whether the New England Patriots used underinflated footballs in the AFC championship game is ongoing after a report Tuesday night. Jan. 20, 2015, claimed the league found 11 balls were not properly inflated. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)
In this Jan. 21, 2015 photo, "Deflate-gate" cookies are offered for sale at Boston Common Coffee in Boston's North End neighborhood. As the NFL investigates how footballs got deflated during the New England Patriots' AFC Championship game, and detractors accuse the team of cheating, very little air seems to have gone out of Patriots Nation and its Super Bowl euphoria. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Tom Brady #12 and Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots celebrate after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 to win Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates with the vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Belichick no longer gets the benefit of the doubt among fans and those in football circles, even those who think he's the best coach in the league. Earlier this month, Hall of Fame coach Don Shula called him "Beli-cheat."

It all traces back to a reputation for gamesmanship that blossomed after the three-time Super Bowl winner's last title in 2004.

In 2007, Belichick was fined $500,000 and the team was fined $250,000 and stripped of its 2008 first-round draft choice by the NFL for videotaping New York Jets signals during a 2007 game. At the time, opponents wondered whether he taped practices, too.

Last year, Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine suggested Belichick might have gotten a copy of the Jets playbook through Alabama coach Nick Saban, an accusation denied by Saban and then-Jets coach Rex Ryan.

Belichick has signed players days before the Patriots faced their former team, opening up new avenues of intel. Six days before the opener against Miami this season, a 33-20 loss, the Patriots signed safety Don Jones a day after he was cut by the Dolphins. He played nine games for New England before being cut and re-signing with the Dolphins.

Belichick also likes to tweak the NFL on injury reports. For years, he listed Tom Brady as "probable" even though he didn't miss practice and played the games. And he's been known to list close to 20 players on the report, most with minor ailments.

And one week before questions of air pressure, some people questioned whether Belichick was bending the rules in a playoff win against Baltimore by using a four-man offensive linemen formation for three plays on a touchdown drive that helped the Patriots rally from a 14-point deficit. The formation - a backup tight end lined up as a tackle-eligible and a running back lined up as an ineligible receiver split wide - wasn't illegal, only creative and intentionally deceptive.

The NFL continued its investigation Wednesday into whether the Patriots snuck underinflated footballs into their 45-7 win against the Colts. Underinflated balls are considered easier to throw and catch, and the league has strict protocols for air pressure and who can handle footballs before and during games. Each team provides its own footballs for use on offense, which are inspected. Tampering or switching footballs can result in $25,000 fines, or worse.

"We are continuing our review and will provide information as soon as possible," league spokesman Brian McCarthy said.

ESPN reported Tuesday night, citing anonymous sources, that the NFL found 11 of 12 footballs provided by the Patriots were not properly inflated, while balls used by the Colts on offense met league standards.

The issue has drawn strong reaction from players, league executives and other NFL personalities who are debating whether the issue affected the Pats-Colts matchup and the sport itself.

Colts linebacker Erik Walden said on Twitter: "patriots motto `if u ain't cheating then u ain't tryin'" before following up by saying the Patriots deserved credit for the win.

His teammate Dwayne Allen tweeted, in part: "They could have played with soap for balls and beat us. Simply the better team."

Pittsburgh Steelers President Art Rooney said he wouldn't consider this matter "serious," saying kickers used to manipulate footballs.

"This rule where we use two different sets of balls is relatively new and frankly I'm not sure why we came to this conclusion," Rooney said. "I assume this will be something the competition committee looks at. I think we all should use the same ball and not have each side kind of have their own footballs available to them. That's my view of it."

In Seattle, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said the issue won't have any effect on the Super Bowl, even if it's against the rules. He said he doubts anyone will be suspended or that anything will happen, unlike when the league threatened to keep running back Marshawn Lynch from playing in the NFC championship game if he followed through on plans to wear gold shoes.

"Whatever they did, the risk reward was greater. They were trying to suspend Marshawn for gold shoes," Sherman said. "That really affects the game if you suspend Marshawn for gold shoes. But then you've got balls being deflated and that's the issue."

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AP Sports Writers Will Graves, Howard Ulman, Tim Booth and Mike Marot contributed to this report.

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Looking back on Patriots 2014-2015 season:

22 PHOTOS
2014 Patriots Season
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Deflated balls latest in Belichick's reputation for guile

Week 1: Patriots at Dolphins, 33-20 loss
Record: 0-1

Shane Vereen #34 of the New England Patriots avoids a tackle by Jimmy Wilson #27 of the Miami Dolphins during the game at Sun Life Stadium on September 7, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Photo Credit: Rob Foldy, Getty Images

Jim Basquil and Greg Garber talk about who should get more credit for the Patriots' success, Tom Brady or Bill Belichick.

Week 2: Patriots at Vikings, 30-7 win
Record: 1-1

New England Patriots Malcolm Butler breaks up a pass play intended for Minnesota Vikings Jarius Wright during fourth quarter action at TCF Stadium on Sunday, September 14, 2014.

Photo Credit: Matthew J. Lee, The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Week 3: Patriots vs Raiders, 16-9 win
Record: 2-1

New England Patriots Nate Ebner, left, and Darrelle Revis, right, tackle Oakland Raiders James Jones during the second half of play at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

Photo Credit: Jessica Rinaldi, The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Week 4: Patriots at Chiefs, 41-14 loss
Record: 2-2

Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali (91) strips the football out of the hands of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) during the third quarter on Monday, Sept. 29, 2014, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

Photo Credit: David Eulitt, Kansas City Star/MCT via Getty Images

Week 5: Patriots vs Bengals, 43-17 win
Record: 3-2

New England Patriots outside linebacker Jamie Collins (91) hits Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) after he released a pass in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014, in Foxborough, Mass.

Photo Credit: Stephan Savoia, AP Photo

Week 6: Patriots at Bills, 37-22 win
Record: 4-2

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) attempts to catch a pass as he is defended by Buffalo Bills' Corey Graham (20) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, in Orchard Park, N.Y. Gronkowski was injured on the play.

Photo Credit: Mike Groll, AP Photo

Week 7: Patriots vs Jets, 27-25 win
Record: 5-2

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throws as New York Jets defensive end Jason Babin (58) pursues during the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, in Foxborough, Mass.

Photo Credit: Charles Krupa, AP Photo

Week 8: Patriots vs Bears, 51-23 win
Record: 6-2

New England Patriots running back Jonas Gray rumbles for a first quarter first down. The New England Patriots hosted the Chicago Bears in a regular season NFL game at Gillette Stadium.

Photo Credit: Jim Davis, The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Week 9: Patriots vs Broncos, 43-21 win
Record: 7-2

Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots carries the ball during the second quarter against the Denver Broncos at Gillette Stadium on November 2, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

Photo Credit: Jim Rogash, Getty Images

Week 10: Bye Week
Record: 7-2

Tom Brady cracks a smile during Patriots practice warmups at Gillette Stadium.

Photo Credit: John Tlumacki, The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Week 11: Patriots at Colts, 42-20 win
Record: 8-2

Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots scores a touchdown against Vontae Davis #21 of the Indianapolis Colts during the fourth quarter of the game at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 16, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Photo Credit: Andy Lyons, Getty Images

Week 12: Patriots vs Lions, 34-9 win
Record: 9-2

Detroit Lions wide receiver Jeremy Ross (12) tries to catch a pass in front of New England Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan (26) in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014, in Foxborough, Mass. The pass was incomplete.

Photo Credit: Stephan Savoia, AP Photo

Week 13: Patriots at Packers, 26-21 loss
Record: 9-3

Tight end Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots makes a reception against the Green Bay Packers during the NFL game at Lambeau Field on November 30, 2014 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Patriots 26-21.

Photo Credit: Christian Petersen, Getty Images

Week 14: Patriots at Chargers, 23-14 win
Record: 10-3

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady slides under San Diego Chargers defensive back Jahleel Addae during the second half in an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014, in San Diego.

Photo Credit: Denis Poroy, AP Photo

Week 15: Patriots vs Dolphins, 41-13 win
Record: 11-3

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline (82) can't catch a pass in front of New England Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner, rear, in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014, in Foxborough, Mass.

Photo Credit: Charles Krupa, AP Photo

Week 16: Patriots at Jets, 17-16 win
Record: 12-3

New York Jets kicker Nick Folk (2) watches as New England Patriots' Vince Wilfork (75) celebrates with teammates after Folk missed a field goal during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Week 17: Patriots vs Bills, 17-9 loss
Record: 12-4

Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the New England Patriots runs against the Buffalo Bills during the second half at Gillette Stadium on December 28, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

Photo Credit: Jerome Davis, Getty Images

Wild Card Playoff: Bye Week
Advance to Divisional Round

The New England Patriots held practice in preparation for their playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens on January 10, 2015. Rob Ninkovich and Vince Wilfork take a breather during practice.

Photo Credit: John Tlumacki, The Boston Globe via Getty Images

AFC Divisional Round: Patriots vs Ravens, 35-31 win
Advance to Conference Championship

Duron Harmon #30 of the New England Patriots intercepts a pass late in the game during the 2015 AFC Divisional Playoffs game against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham, Getty Images

AFC Championship: Patriots vs Colts, 45-7 win
Advance to Super Bowl XLIX

The Patriots' LeGarrette Blount scores in 3rd quarter action during the AFC Championship Game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium on January 18, 2015.

Photo Credit: Matthew J. Lee, The Boston Globe via Getty Images

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