New Season, Same Pats

Alex Park, Managing Editor

AB News & Getty Images

It took just one quarter into the new NFL season for the New England Patriots to find themselves in familiar territory.

For most of the first quarter, the New England Patriots’ radio broadcast was leaking into the headsets of the Pittsburgh Steelers coaches causing disruptions in play-calling, immediately sparking allegations of cheating (again).

Blake Jones, NFL Director of Football Operations, went down to the Steelers’ sideline to check on the headsets. It was determined to be an issue, although it was not a complete system failure.

If the headsets of one team aren’t working properly, the NFL’s Equity Rule forces the other team to take their headsets off in order to ensure a level playing field. An NFL representative was sent down to the Patriots’ sideline to shut down the Patriots’ headsets, but the malfunction stopped when the NFL rep was en route to the sideline, causing suspicion.

Steelers Head Coach, Mike Tomlin, suggests that this is a normal occurrence in New England.

“That’s always the case,” said Tomlin.

Visibly frustrated during the postgame press conference, Tomlin insisted throughout the presser that it was a lack of preparation and that New England was the better team that night, and that the radio malfunction had nothing to do with their loss.

Patriots Head Coach, Bill Belichick, faced similar radio malfunctions throughout the game and spoke out against the cheating allegations.

“I just think overall, it’s kind of sad really to see some stories obviously have an agenda to them with misinformation and anonymous-type comments,” said Belichick.

The NFL released a statement on Saturday, September 12, exonerating the Patriots of any misconduct. The radio malfunction was “attributable to an electrical issue made worse by the inclement weather,” and “the Patriots had nothing to do with it.”

It certainly isn’t a good look for the New England Patriots and the timing could not have been any worse. After a summer filled with allegations and courtroom battles between Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady and the NFL over deflated footballs, the Patriots were ready to move on. After a damning report by ESPN that exposed the mishandling of high-profile cases by the NFL and new information regarding the Patriots’ cheating habits, this was the last thing any party needed.

If a close eye wasn’t kept on the Patriots already, it certainly will be now.

The radio malfunction did take away some of the glamour during the opening game of the season and New England’s Super Bowl championship celebration.

With pyrotechnics and theatrics that more resembled the WWE, former Patriots Ty Law, Willie McGinest, and Troy Brown all walked out of the tunnel one-by-one, each holding one of the three Vince Lombardi trophies they had won during their time with the Patriots.

Finally, New England Patriots Owner, Robert Kraft, walked out with the most recent trophy.

The celebration didn’t distract New England in any way as Brady ripped apart Pittsburgh’s defense a week after his initial four-game suspension was vacated by a federal judge, throwing for 288 yards and four touchdowns en route to a 28-21 victory. Tight End Rob Gronkowski caught three of those touchdowns, all from within the red-zone.

The Steelers managed to trim the lead down to seven before ultimately running out of time. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 351 yards and one touchdown, with DeAngelo Williams leading the way in the backfield with 127 yards. Kicker Josh Scobee missed two field goals early, allowing the Patriots to gain what became an  insurmountable lead.

The Patriots celebrated a win that night and the Super Bowl victory that occurred months ago, but in normal fashion, a controversy stains another night of Patriots celebration.

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