The New England Patriots are not even a part of the Super Bowl week festivities this year, but they’re still being accused of skirting the rules.
Retired fullback Brad Hoover was a member of the Carolina Panthers team that lost to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII, and he told WFNZ 610 AM on Thursday that he truly believes New England had to pull a dirty trick or two to secure their 32-29 victory.
“Can I prove they cheated? No,” Hoover said, as transcribed by ProFootballTalk. “But deep down in my heart, I think they did.”
Hoover’s primary accusation — and one other members of the Panthers organization have raised in the past — was that the Patriots had prior knowledge of the Panthers’ game plan. The 39-year-old pointed to how Carolina was able to move the ball much more efficiently after making some halftime adjustments.
“At halftime, we changed our whole offensive game plan, and that’s one of the advantages of having that long intermission,” Hoover told the Charlotte radio station. “How did they know what we were doing? The play in the second half was a lot different. We were able to put a lot more points on the board, and I think that’s a part of it.”
The Panthers scored just nine more points in the second half than they did in the first, however, and didn’t manage a single point in the third quarter. Carolina did outscore New England 19-18 in a wild fourth quarter, but it wasn’t quite enough for Hoover’s squad to overcome its 14-10 halftime deficit.
Fans of both teams know all too well how the game ended: Panthers kicker John Kasay booted a kickoff out of bounds with just over a minute to play, setting up Adam Vinatieri’s second Super Bowl-winning field goal in three years.
Thumbnail photo via Dave Martin/Associated Press
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