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Police had to rush forgotten footballs, air gauges to Patriots game

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The New England Patriots took the field at Gillette Stadium on Saturday.Charles Krupa

Maybe they wilted under postseason pressure.

The referees who worked the NFL playoff game between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday at Gillette Stadium forgot to bring a few tools of their trade, namely, the footballs used during kicks and the gauges that measure air pressure in the balls, State Police said.

David Procopio, a State Police spokesman, said the mistake came to light at about 2:30 p.m. Saturday, when league officials contacted the Hyatt at Logan International Airport, where the officiating crew had stayed, and alerted the hotel that the items were left behind.

A Hyatt employee recovered the footballs and gauges, and a worker and State Police Detective Lieutenant Thomas Coffey drove the items to Gillette, where they arrived about an hour before the 4:35 p.m. kickoff, Procopio said.

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The Patriots defeated the Chiefs to advance to the conference championship game.

Air pressure in footballs dominated the sports news cycle last year when the Deflategate scandal erupted, and the Pats were accused of illegally letting air out of balls after officials inspected them.

The fallout included sanctions levied against the team and star quarterback Tom Brady, whose four-game suspension was sacked in federal court.

An NFL spokesman, Greg Aiello, declined to comment on Saturday's incident.

"There were no issues with the footballs used in the game," he wrote in an e-mail.

And we're on to Denver.


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.