Facing third down-and-eight at the Eagles’ 14-yard-line, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes overthrew WR JuJu Smith-Schuster. Thousands of Eagles fans around the world rejoiced until the camera panned to referee Carl Cheffers. He announced that CB James Bradberry had held Smith-Schuster, granting the Chiefs an automatic first down. Kansas City was able to run the clock out and kick a game-winning field goal with eight seconds remaining. Had the flag not been thrown, the Chiefs would have had to kick the field goal earlier. This would’ve left QB Jalen Hurts and the Eagles with 1:50 to tie or win the game.
Photo Cred: iNews Photo Cred: Chiefs Wire – USA Today (Cheffers)
Pretty much, every close game contains a questionable call by the referees that outrages one fanbase. Bradberry said after the game that he did hold Smith-Schuster and the penalty was warranted. The fact that the player who committed the penalty admitted that it was a fair call is good enough for some people, but not for me.
Do I think it was a hold? I don’t know, it truly was a 50/50 call. Bradberry did grab Smith-Schuster’s jersey but he did not tug it; the grab didn’t seem to impact Smith-Schuster’s route. Isolating this play, I don’t think it was an egregious call either. Rather, my problem with the penalty stems from the context in which it was called. There had not been a single defensive pass interference or defensive holding called the entire game. The referees were allowing the players to be physical with each other. All any player, coach, or fan can ask for is consistency in refereeing, and this call was not in line with how the game was being refereed.
Photo Cred: Fox News Photo Cred: Sportscasting
One play never decides a game. The Eagles made plenty of mistakes that allowed the Chiefs to be in this situation to win. Would the Eagles have won the game if this penalty was not called? Maybe not, but the fact that Hurts didn’t get a chance to tie or win the game is an atrocity.
Imagine a chess match between Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura, two of the best chess players in the world. Let’s say Carlsen is down a pawn and, before he has a chance to come back, the arbiter (an official who oversees chess matches) comes over, picks up Carlsen’s queen, and throws it away. That is what this call felt like. People don’t want to see a game, much less the Super Bowl, decided by an official. Instead, we want to see two great teams duel it out until the end, just as the game was meant to be.
Photo Cred: Sky Sports Photo Cred: ChessBase