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Surface Tablets Didn't Cause Patriots To Lose AFC Championship

Microsoft's Surface tablets took an unwelcome hit during yesterday's AFC Championship game in Denver when the units used by the New England Patriots briefly stopped working. The issue, which Microsoft later said was a networking outage unrelated to the Surface tablets (not a BSOD), was briefly under the spotlight to everyone watching the game.

"Our team on the field has confirmed the issue was not related to the tablets themselves but rather an issue with the network," a Microsoft spokesperson said. "We worked with our partners who manage the network to ensure the issue was resolved quickly."

Update: NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy late Monday issued a statement confirming Microsoft's claim. "Near the end of the 1st quarter, we experienced an infrastructure issue on the Patriots sideline that impacted still photos for the coaching tablets. The issue was identified as a network cable malfunction and was resolved during the 2nd quarter.  The issue was not caused by the tablets or the software that runs on the tablets. We have experienced no issues with the tablets this season. Any issues were network related."

CBS reporter Evan Washburn, who was on the sidelines, pointed out the problem (though not the cause), during the national broadcast: "They're having some trouble with their Microsoft Surface tablets," Washburn reported. "On the last defensive possession the Patriots' coaches did not have access to those tablets to show pictures to their players. NFL officials have been working at it. Some of those tablets are back in use, but not all of them. [There's] A lot of frustration that they didn't have them on that last possession."

Unless you've been hiding under a rock (or totally tune out professional football), the Patriots ultimately lost the game by two points to the Denver Broncos, denying the Patriots a return trip to the Super Bowl on Feb. 7. In a post-game news briefing this morning at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Bill Belichick, the coach of the New England Patriots, said the brief outage didn't affect the impact of the game.

"It is what it is," Belichik said. It's a pretty common problem. We have ways of working through it. There is really nothing you can do. It's not like the headsets where one side is affected. You just deal with it. We've had it at home, on the road. That didn't affect the outcome of the game, no way," he added. "Just part of it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't."

Microsoft's Surface Pro is the official tablet used during NFL games, thanks to a $400 million deal inked two years ago. Among other things, it's used on the sidelines by coaching staffs to review plays and access statistics.

For a while, broadcasters were referring to them as iPads. The scuttlebutt on social media was that if they were iPads the problem wouldn't have happened. We all know that's not true. But what is true is even though the Seattle Seahawks aren't returning to the Super Bowl, neither are the Patriots. It' s hard to imagine too many folks in the Pacific Northwest are sorry about yesterday's outcome.  

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 01/25/2016 at 3:32 PM


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