January 31, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) Colts owner Jim Irsay says he's confident NFL investigators will figure out how the New England Patriots used deflated footballs in the AFC championship game.

The issue was the main topic of conversation heading into Super Bowl week. NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Pash and lawyer Ted Wells are leading the probe to determine what happened to the footballs New England used during the 45-7 victory over the Colts on Jan. 18.

''I think Wells and Pash are going to dig into it, be very detailed.'' Pash told The Associated Press on Saturday night before the NFL Honors show. ''Every play in the playoffs is so important.

''Every aspect is so important. You want to make sure you have a level playing field, but they are a great team and a great franchise and we have a great rivalry with them And we look forward to playing them. I am confident that they will thoroughly look into it and find out what happened.''

Upon arriving in Phoenix last Monday, Patriots owner Robert Kraft demanded an apology from the league once the Patriots are found to be not guilty of breaking any rules regarding using under-inflated footballs.

Commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday his responsibility is ''to protect the integrity of the game.''

''I represent 32 teams,'' Goodell said. ''All of us want to make sure that the rules are being followed, and if we have any information where the potential is that those rules were violated, I have to pursue that and I have to pursue that aggressively. This is my job. It is what all 32 clubs expect and what I believe our partners, our fans expect. We will do so vigorously, and it is important for it to be fair.''

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP-RobMaaddi

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