The call that is at the center of discussion about the Super Bowl apparently didn’t cause much debate amongst the officials who made the decision.
With the game tied and the Chiefs trying to keep their drive alive with 1:54 to play, a Patrick Mahomes pass couldn't find JuJu Smith-Schuster on 3rd-and-8. But Kansas City was bailed out in a big way, with Eagles cornerback James Bradberry getting flagged for defensive holding.
That resulted in the Chiefs moving up four yards and getting a fresh set of downs, wiping out the play. That allowed for the Chiefs to burn clock and set up Harrison Butker’s game-winning field goal.
A check of the tape shows that Bradberry held Smith-Schuster, something Bradberry didn’t deny after the game. But to call that penalty in that situation was surprising, and ultimately prevented the Eagles from getting the ball back down three with plenty of time on the clock to run a few plays.
“The receiver went to the inside and he was attempting to release to the outside," lead referee Carl Cheffers said in a pool report after the game. "The defender grabbed the jersey with his right hand and restricted him from releasing to the outside. So, therefore, we called defensive holding. … He went to the inside, he put a foot down to try and break to the outside. So, it was right at the break to the outside where the defender grabbed his jersey."
Cheffers said the grabbing of the jersey restricted Smith-Schuster’s “free release to the outside” and that “it was a clear case of a jersey grab that caused the restriction.”
Further, Cheffers said there "was no debate" among the referees if the call was right. "Just making sure what (the ref he threw the flag) had, and once he told us what he had, we went about our business," Cheffers said.
Asked if there was anything else he wanted to add that would be helpful for people to know, Cheffers said “I don’t think so. That’s what we’re looking for, those kind of restrictions in those kind of routes that put the receiver at a disadvantage."
There’s no guarantee the Eagles would have eventually gotten into field goal range had the flag not been thrown and things played out as expected. But the fact that Jalen Hurts didn’t even get a chance to try to drive down the field is something that will sting in Philly for a long, long time.