"Audio-Gate", and the issue of whether the Colts pumped artificial crowd noise into Sunday's game, sounds as if it is not going to have the same staying power as "Spy-Gate", the Patriots videotape controversy from earlier this season.
The issue surfaced in cyberspace on Monday, when football fans listened to audio of an Indianapolis crowd that piped up when Tom Brady was at the line of scrimmage and died down once the play was completed.
CBS-TV and the NFL said the mistake was not the Colts', but rather the network's.
"CBS has informed the NFL that the unusual audio moment heard that fans might have heard during the Patriots-Colts telecast was the result of tape feedback in the CBS production truck and was isolated to the CBS broadcast," a league spokesman said Monday.
"The network and the league insisted that it was in no way related to any sound within the stadium and could not be heard in the stadium."
To which the Colts released the following statement: "We trust this will put an end to the ridiculous and unfounded accusations that the Colts artificially enhanced crowd noise at the RCA Dome in any way."
They said that after listening to the disputed moment in question, when the crowd noise dramatically died down after a Randy Moss reception at the beginning of the fourth quarter, it sounded to them as if an extra microphone was inadvertantly left open. CBS, not the Colts, was to blame.
Another TV executive said that networks typically scatter at least 10 different microphones around the stadium to help pick up natural sound; cameras also have microphones. If any one of them is inadvertantly open, it could help produce the discrepency that brought Sunday's issue to the forefront.
Also, the umpire's microphone is open during the play and as soon as the play is blown dead, the microphone is closed, not opening until a few seconds before the play. This could help explain why the sound would drop after a play is run.
And it's even possible that the reverberating feedback noise that was clearly audible during Sunday's fourth quarter could have come from an audio machine in CBS's production truck. Any one of these issues could have caused the noise heard across the country.
But, as CBS vice president of communications LeslieAnne Wade said Monday, "This is what it was, it was a TV issue."
The bottom line is the Patriots might feel they have the right to complain. The Colts felt the need to explain. And people will believe what they want, adding another layer of intrigue to football's best rivalry.
Rich get richer
As if Sunday and the season haven't gone well enough for the Patriots, it is actually going even better than people realize.
At their current rate, the 49ers will finish the season 4-12, which would almost surely give New England a top-10 pick and very likely a top-five pick.
The Patriots acquired the 49ers' first-round pick last April, on a draft-day trade, when New England sent its 2007 first-round pick to San Francisco for its 2008 first-round pick. The 49ers used the pick to draft Central Michigan offensive tackle Joe Staley.
At the time, most thought the 49ers were on an upwards swing, one of the real upstart teams in the league. But this season has soured quickly in San Francisco and the 49ers are regressing instead of progressing with an offense that looks inept.
Still even richer ...
To a wide receiver crew that already includes Randy Moss and Wes Welker and Donte Stallworth, the Patriots have the option of adding veteran Troy Brown, who has spent this season on the Physically Unable to Perform List.
"We need to do that this week," Belichick said, "and we will do that this week."
Brown is not the only player on which a decision must be made by Tuesday. The Cleveland Browns must decide whether to start practicing injured center LeCharles Bentley or place him on the season-ending injured reserve list.
The Bengals also plan to start the practice clock on running back Chris Perry, who spent the first half of the season on the PUP list. Cincinnati will have three weeks to decide what it wants to do with Perry, activate him or IR him.
Cincinnati already has decided to bring back formerly suspended wide receiver Chris Henry, who was added to the Bengals' 53-man roster Monday. To make room for Henry, the Bengals released wide receiver Skyler Green.
Henry will provide an explosive receiver to complement T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson, whom the Bengals believe is fine after his neck injury this weekend and could wind up playing Sunday at Baltimore.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said Monday that Johnson "has an opportunity" to play vs. Baltimore. But if Johnson is even remotely questionable, that increases the chances that the Bengals would want and need to have Henry ready.
Just as the Bengals will be getting a boost from Henry, the Cowboys will be getting one from formerly suspended defensive tackle Tank Johnson, whom Dallas is planning to play in Sunday's monstrous divisional showdown vs. the New York Giants.
If Dallas' defense has one noticeable weakness, it might just be in the center of its line. The Cowboys could use another wide body to help close some of the gaps that opposing running backs have attempted to run through. Johnson will help do it along with Jay Ratliff, a third-year undrafted free agent out of Auburn.
But now, plenty has changed. Anderson is on pace to become the first Cleveland Brown to be voted to the Pro Bowl since 2002, when linebacker Jamir Miller was selected. Anderson easily could wind up being the AFC's third Pro Bowl quarterback, behind New England's Tom Brady and Indianapolis' Peyton Manning.
Anderson's primary competition would seem to come from only in his division, from Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger and Cincinnati's Carson Palmer. It is up to those two quarterbacks to beat out Anderson, otherwise Cleveland will have a Pro Bowl quarterback.
However it shakes out, the Browns shut out in Hawaii is about to end.