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Report: NFL Struggling To Connect Patriots Football Ops. To Sideline Taping Scandal

BOSTON (CBS) -- The NFL continues to investigate the New England Patriots for videotaping the Cincinnati Bengals' sideline, but they are reportedly struggling to connect the scandal to the team's football operations. That is great news for the Patriots, who would face a much steeper penalty if a connection is made.

NFL investigators spent time over the last few days interviewing members of the Patriots, according to a report Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio. That included collecting devices from certain individuals, which Florio reports is to see if they can connect the scandal to the New England football ops. department.

"As one source explained it, there's a sense that investigators want to make that connection, and a perception that they are showing frustration when unable to tie the video crew to the football employees," Florio reported.

If no connection is made, the penalty against the Patriots is expected to be minimal.

The Patriots have maintained that football operations had nothing to do with a team production crew filming the Bengals' sideline in Week 14. That film crew was on hand in Cleveland for a "Do Your Job" feature on the team's advance scout, and has admitted to shooting Cincinnati's sideline to show the scout's perspective. The Bengals were not too happy to hear the Patriots had taped their sidelined one week before the two teams squared off in Cincy, and the NFL has been investigating the matter since.

There is still no timetable for a potential punishment to be announced, but it sounds like it could come sooner rather than later with the NFL's investigation into the matter ramping up.

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