The Patriots’ SpyGate 2.0 Is Looking Increasingly SpyGate-y

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 15: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and Head coach Zac Taylor of the Cincinnati Bengals shake hands following the game at Paul Brown Stadium on December 15, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Bill Belichick shakes hands with Bengals head coach Zac Taylor following New England’s win on December 15, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The New England Patriots didn’t need much help to beat the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton threw four interceptions, including a pick-6, and the Patriots waltzed to a 32-13 road victory. The matchup between the NFL’s perma-dynasty and a one-win cellar dweller was predictably lopsided. Every game is a challenge, though, so give credit to the Patriots for approaching this matchup with trademark hyper-preparedness.

In totally unrelated news, the NFL is investigating New England for surreptitiously recording the Cincinnati sideline during the Bengals’ game last Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.

The Patriots admitted last week that they hadn’t given the NFL or the Bengals a heads up that they’d be filming at last week’s game. Rather, they only obtained credentials from the Browns and sent a film crew to the press box. A Bengals security official noticed the men (at least one of them was wearing Patriots gear) and confiscated their equipment and eight minutes of footage. On Sunday, Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer released a clip of incredulous Bengals employees reviewing the tape as two guys with thick New England accents desperately try to explain themselves.

Close your eyes and listen and you’ll get magically transported to a Framingham Dunkin’ Donuts.

The men insisted they were getting footage for an episode of “Do Your Job,” a documentary series. (The team also asserts this is the case.) Their supposed assignment was a profile of the team’s advance scout, but, as the Bengals staffer mentions multiple times, the scout is nowhere to be seen in the Patriots’ footage. Rather, the camera focuses on the Bengals’ sideline as Cincinnati coaches communicate with players on the field. The NFL has strict rules against videotaping other teams’ sidelines, and these restrictions are well known.

“I don’t know why you think you could take that,” a Cincinatti security official asks.

“I didn’t know,” replies the videographer, a man who films documentaries for a franchise that was heavily punished by the NFL in 2007 for secretly filming a rival team’s signals during a game.

The Patriots have distanced themselves from the men, claiming they were a film crew gone rogue. “We have absolutely nothing to do with anything that they produce or direct or shoot. I have never even seen any of their tapes or anything else,” head coach Bill Belichick told reporters last week. In their initial statement, the team claimed that the “production crew is independent of our organization.” Those independent videographers worked independently for Kraft Sports + Entertainment, an independent company owned by independent party and Patriots owner Robert Kraft. On Sunday, the Boston Globe reported that the Patriots suspended Dave Mondillo, an employee of that (independent) company for his role in the controversy.

No matter how conspiracy-minded you may be, there is little reason to believe the secretly filmed footage had a real effect on Sunday’s game. For one thing, the Bengals had fair warning and would have changed their signals ahead of time. For another, their quarterback is Andy Dalton, a man who doesn’t require the aide of saboteurs when it comes to throwing interceptions.

If anything, the controversy demonstrates the importance of, well, doing your job. The Patriots’ “Do Your Job” series centers on the organization-wide obsession with getting the little things right. All it takes is one honest mistake: Film next week’s opponent without their knowledge and *poof* you’ve failed to Do Your Job. Or was the mistake getting caught filming next week’s opponent? Tune in to next week’s episode of “Do Your Job” to find out, assuming the footage hasn’t been deleted.