Super Bowl

Controversial Holding Penalty Costs Eagles in Super Bowl LVII

Super Bowl LVII was a close, competitive game that ended with the Kansas City Chiefs pulling out a 38-35 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles. However, the game wasn’t without controversy.

Eagles cornerback James Bradberry was called for defensive holding against Chiefs receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster on a crucial third-and-8 play at the Eagles’ 15-yard line with 1:54 remaining in the game. Patrick Mahomes had thrown the ball over Smith-Schuster’s head in the end zone, but the penalty gave the Chiefs an automatic first down and allowed them to run the clock down to 11 seconds before Harrison Butker kicked the winning field goal.

After the game, referee Carl Cheffers told pool reporter Lindsay Jones the call was made because the jersey tug by Bradberry restricted Smith-Schuster from releasing to the outside. For his part, Bradberry admitted it was the right call, though he was hoping he’d get away with it.

“It was holding,” Bradberry said. “I tugged his jersey. I was hoping they would let it slide.”

In Bradberry’s defense, the Chiefs had scored touchdowns on similar route concepts in their previous two possessions when Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore got wide open near the end zone.

It was the second consecutive game the Chiefs benefitted from a call on their final drive. Against the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship Game, it was Joseph Ossai’s late hit that put Kansas City in range to kick a winning field goal.

While some Eagles fans believe their team got the short end of the stick, Dean Blandino, former NFL vice president of officiating and an analyst for The 33rd Team, said the officials made the right call.

“There’s a jersey grab. People will complain because it’s such a big situation,” Blandino said. “But it’s the correct call.”

Eric Mangini, former NFL head coach and an analyst for The 33rd Team, said after the game, “You call the game the way you see the game. If he felt that was a strong enough hold, which you can make a case either way, then I think you make that call.”

Former NFL cornerback Samari Rolle, an analyst for The 33rd Team, also agrees that the referees got the call right.

“No doubt about it,” said Rolle. “He does tug him, and you’ve gotta say, ‘Let them play, it’s the Super Bowl.’ As a defensive back, you do want them to play, but at the same time, that’s Patrick Mahomes. He’s league MVP, second time winning MVP, so he’s going to get that call.”

Rolle might prefer a more physical game, but as he explained, that’s life in the NFL.

“It sucks that’s how the game had to end,” Rolle said. “But playing cornerback isn’t easy, man, and that [play] is one of the reasons right there.”


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