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Steve Spagnuolo says the Patriots stole the Eagles’ defensive signals in Super Bowl XXXIX

The Patriots have been accused of cheating. Again.

NFL: Washington Redskins at New York Giants Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Spagnuolo was the Eagles’ linebackers coach when Philadelphia last faced the Patriots in a Super Bowl. He’s pretty sure the Patriots had a little too much intel on what the Eagles defense was doing in Philly’s 24-21 Super Bowl XXXIX loss.

Spagnuolo joined 97.5 the Fanatic in Philadelphia on Monday, and said the Patriots stole the Eagles’ signals during Super Bowl XXXIX.

He recalls then-defensive coordinator Jim Johnson making the claim during the game. But Spagnuolo brushed it off at the time.

”I remember through the course of the game Jim [Johnson] saying, ‘They’re getting our signals. They know when we’re blitzing … try to hide it,’” Spagnuolo said. “I remember distinctly thinking, ‘I don’t think so Jim, just concentrate on calling the game.’”

But now Spagnuolo thinks Johnson was correct.

“When you go back and look at that tape, it was evident to us. … We believe that Tom (Brady) knew when we were pressuring him because he certainly got the ball out pretty quick,” Spagnuolo said.

What Spagnuolo learned from that was to employ two defensive signal-callers to catch the Patriots off guard. And it worked in Super Bowl XLII, when Spagnuolo was the Giants defensive coordinator and New York beat the Patriots, 17-14.

“But, you know, you gotta play the game, and they won that particular day,” Spagnuolo said of Super Bowl XXXIX. “But there’s no question — I wasn’t going to let that happen in the 2008 Super Bowl (with the Giants) after the 2007 season. We made sure we had two signal callers, and we were protecting against that.”

It’s not the first time the Patriots have been accused of cheating. They got hammered by the league for SpyGate, when an assistant was caught illegally filming the Jets during a game from an unauthorized location during their 38-14 win over New York in the season opener. An ESPN Outside the Lines investigation revealed that the illegal videotaping went all the way back to the 2000 season. Bill Belichick was fined $500,000. The team was fined $250,000 and forced to forfeit its first-round draft pick in 2008.

DeflateGate was another mark against the Patriots’ reputation. The league investigated allegations that the Patriots had deflated footballs to fewer pounds per square inch than the rules require in the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts following the 2014 season. Brady served a four-game suspension for failing to cooperate with the league’s investigation. The team was fined $1 million and lost two draft picks.

It’s not a vast NFL conspiracy every time calls go the Patriots’ way during a game, and the league doesn’t rig things in their favor. But the Patriots do have a history of some unscrupulous behavior. It wouldn’t hurt for the Eagles to learn from Spagnuolo’s experience and have two defensive signal callers in Super Bowl LII.

The worst Super Bowl ever