(Reuters) - The NFL said on Friday it has conducted nearly 40 interviews as part of its investigation into whether the New England Patriots used illegally deflated balls during a blowout victory that clinched a Super Bowl berth.
The NFL said evidence thus far supports the conclusion that under-inflated footballs were used by the Patriots in the first half but were properly inflated for the second half of their 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
"The goals of the investigation will be to determine the explanation for why footballs used in the game were not in compliance with the playing rules and specifically whether any noncompliance was the result of deliberate action," the league said in a statement.
"We have not made any judgments on these points and will not do so until we have concluded our investigation and considered all of the relevant evidence."
The growing storm over the Patriots' alleged use of illegal balls, which is being referred to as 'deflate-gate,' has so far dominated the buildup to the Feb. 1 Super Bowl showdown with the Seattle Seahawks.
The NFL also said the Patriots have pledged their full cooperation and have made their personnel and other information available upon request.
Patriots quarterback Brady threw three touchdown passes during Sunday's game in wet conditions where a firm grip on a slippery ball could have helped.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Gene Cherry)