Senator Specter Says the Patriots Taped the Steelers Twice During 04
Well, it looks like Senator Arlen Specter didn't get around to talking about the NFL's antitrust exemption during today's meet-and-greet with commissioner Roger Goodell. As Michael David Smith wrote earlier, Specter learned that the Patriots have been videotaping opponents since 2000, something that wasn't clear when the league concluded its investigation in September.
In a post-meeting press conference, Specter elaborated. The senator said that "there were notes showing that the Steelers games had been taped." Specifically, two contests during the 2004 season: one on Oct. 31, and the other, the AFC Championship, on Jan. 27.
A couple of things worth pointing out: Pittsburgh smoked the Patriots in the first meeting, 34-20, sacking Tom Brady four times and picking him off twice. Three months later, the two teams met in the conference finals. Unsurprisingly (in hindsight), the Patriots won 41-27, and Brady, sacked just twice in the rematch, finished 14 of 21 for 207 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Did New England gain an advantage from having videotaped Pittsburgh during the teams' first meeting? There isn't enough evidence to say that, yes, unequivocally the Patriots won because they had the Steelers' defensive signals. But it would also be naÔve to suggest that having access to that information had no bearing on the outcome. If that were true, Matthew Estrella (and Matt Walsh before him) wouldn't have had a job.
Either way, this doesn't do much for the Patriots' legacy as one of the best teams in NFL history, and it doesn't do much for Roger Goodell's credibility.
I also wonder if Bill Cowher might want to reconsider his earlier thoughts on the Steelers' other AFC Championship game against the Patriots.