Even Super Bowl 57, arguably one of the most exciting championship games in NFL history, can’t escape the clutches of controversy generated by conspiracy theorists and hardcore fans who over-scrutinize calls because they have a dog in the hunt.
With the game tied at 35 and 1:54 left in regulation, most of us assumed the Chiefs would have to settle for a 32-yard field goal attempt due to their failure to convert on 3rd Down.
We expected the Eagles would have about 1:40 and two timeouts to work with to a) send the game into overtime with a field goal of their own or b) somehow score a touchdown in dramatic fashion to win.
It would all come down to the last 100 seconds and the Eagles’ final drive.
… But, wait. Flag.
Eagles defensive back James Bradberry was caught grabbing the jersey of Juju Smith-Schuster. Although the infraction only netted the Chiefs five yards, it gave them a fresh set of downs and enabled Kansas City to run precious time off the clock, kick the game-winning field goal, and leave the Eagles with no timeouts and fewer than 10 seconds on offense.
While instant reply clearly showed Bradberry impeding Smith-Schuster’s progress, the level of contact looked frivolous to some.
However, the defender clearly wrapped his left arm around the receiver’s waist and appeared to get a fist full of jersey, even if just for a second.
Moreover, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw the ball to where his receiver should have been but Smith-Schuster was nowhere near it. Judging by Mahomes’ immediate reaction after the play, he knew his intended receiver had been held sufficiently enough to warrant a call because was Smith-Schuster was out of the play.
After the game, Bradberry, in class fashion, accepted that he had committed a holding penalty.
It was a legitimate hold but, in the defense of critics, probably not a call we’d see 10 of 10 times.
Officiating in any sport isn’t an exact science as some referees are more strict than others.
Think about being pulled over while speeding. Some cops will let you fly by while going 12mph over the speed limit while others will ticket you for going just 7mph over.
A decision to ticket someone likely depends on the location, traffic levels, weather conditions, and each cop’s personal threshold for ticketing.
In the example above, you’re safely speeding in both cases and a cop could pull you over without being an over-the-top stickler. And the same holds true for the referee’s call last night.
Although the ending was undoubtedly disappointing for all except Chiefs’ fans and players, it was nevertheless the right decision.
Those of us who watched the game for pure entertainment would like to have seen the Eagles get one last opportunity to rally back with just 1:40 or so left. However, the Chiefs drained the clock prior to kicking the field goal, putting Philadelphia in a situation where it needed a miracle to score.
Anyone complaining about the call is likely an Eagles’ diehard or conspiracy theorist who’d never be satisfied with the outcome regardless of the ending or winner.
A video of the incident is below.