Controversial Call Overshadows Kansas City Chiefs’ Win Over Philadelphia Eagles

From start to finish, Super Bowl LVII may have been the greatest Super Bowl ever played.

The game was everything that we expected with both the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles delivering punch after punch in an offensive shootout of a game. In fact, the Chiefs’ 38-35 victory over the Eagles marked the first time that both teams scored at least 35 points in a Super Bowl game.

And it was all ruined by one bad call.

On the biggest stage of them all, on the biggest play of the game, the referees — not the players — shined brightest.

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During a key 3rd-and-8 play from the Chiefs’ 15-yard-line with 1:54 remaining in the game, cornerback James Bradberry was called for a questionable defensive holding call on receiver Juju Smith-Schuster that resulted in an automatic first down. The call ultimately decided the game before Kansas City ran down the clock prior to Harrison Butker’s game-winning field goal with eight seconds left.

Unsurprisingly, observers were in disgust over a ticky-tack call in a Super Bowl that every bit lived up to the hype.

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There used to be an unwritten rule in sports that referees should only throw the flag at the end of the games if the play was egregious. However, that train of thought has disappeared in recent years as outcomes are now commonly decided by flags thrown towards the end of close games.

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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell actually addressed this topic leading into Super Bowl LVII and diffused the notion that the league has a problem with officiating. In fact, he claimed that officiating has never been better.

“I don’t think it’s ever been better in the league,” Goodell said. “There are over 42,000 plays in a season. Multiple infractions could occur on any play. Take that out or extrapolate that. That’s hundreds if not millions of potential fouls. And our officials do an extraordinary job of getting those. Are there mistakes in the context of that? Yes, they are not perfect and officiating never will be.”

There were several questionable calls during Conference Championship weekend, specifically during the AFC Championship Game between the Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals.

On one instance during the fourth quarter, the Chiefs were able to replay a 3rd-and-9 after initially coming up short of the sticks due to a clock error before the play. On another instance in the fourth quarter, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow was called for an intentional grounding play despite being hit by a defender that caused the pass to fall short.

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Fast forward to Super Bowl Sunday and you now have one of the most questionable — if not the most questionable ever — calls in Super Bowl history made over a holding call that really wasn’t much of a holding in the first place.

And nothing is going to change.

If Goodell didn’t recognize there was an officiating problem after the AFC Championship Game, he won’t recognize there’s a problem after the Super Bowl.

As Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter Jon Ledyard of Pewter Report pointed out after the game, the quality of officiating won’t change unless the players push for it.

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Despite Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts putting on a showcase that illustrated why they are two of the top quarterbacks in the game today, we were deprived of the Eagles having an opportunity to tie the Chiefs — and forcing the game into overtime — because of a bad call on the biggest play of the game.

To Mahomes’ credit, he came out to play. Despite a sprained ankle — the injury was re-aggravated during a tackle during the first half — he earned Super Bowl MVP honors with a gutsy performance, culminated by a 26-yard scramble on the game-winning drive. For the second time in the Super Bowl, Mahomes led the Chiefs back from a 10-point deficit.

To top it all off, he’s just the fourth quarterback in NFL history — Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Joe Montana are the others — to win multiple MVP awards in addition to multiple Super Bowls. And he’s the youngest ever to do it at the age of 27.

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Despite losing in first Super Bowl appearance, Hurts was arguably the more impressive of the two quarterbacks. Outside of a costly fumble on a basic running play that resulted in a defensive touchdown in the first half, Hurts showed no signs of nerves — or an injured shoulder — as he became the first quarterback in Super Bowl history to rush for three touchdowns in addition to passing for another.

But it’s hard to focus on the players’ historic performances when bad calls dictate tight games on the biggest stages.

Although Goodell doesn’t see an issue, the NFL has a big officiating problem.

Allow the players to dictate the outcomes of games — not officiating.

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